Spotlight on Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate, Victoria Scupham

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th February 2016

Victoria Scupham is a gradute of the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards  and is a pastry chef at the Royal Household where she has worked for four and a half years.

After working in the main kitchen for the first few years, she took on the challenge of  pastry one year ago and is enjoying this new role and experience.

Having passed the Graduate examination on her second attempt she’s been Victoria Scupham 1 low restalking to us about the whole process and sharing some words of wisdom for those considering entering in 2016.

Why did you enter the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Graduate Awards?

It was in a food technology lesson at school that I realised how much I loved cooking and decided I wanted to do it as a career. However the thought of competitions is something which has always filled me with dread.

>>>Download the entry form now

  My manager suggested I enter the Graduate Awards and, although it’s not a competition, it still terrified when I thought about taking part. After much consideration I decided to give it a go, but I knew it would be a challenge for me.

What was it about these awards that attracted you?

I guess being able to learn some new skills and prove what I can do. As a young chef I always want to be challenged and discover new things and at each stage of the process you get to put your skills to the test. Before the final exam you find out what some of the items in the final may be and so it’s then down to you to learn how to prepare those ingredients, in case they do come up on the day.

Three insights into Victoria Scupham:

What’s your favourite dish to cook?

I don’t have one dish as such but it would be anything cake or pastry related.

Where would you most like to eat out if you could go anywhere in the world?

I have always wanted to go to Le Gavroche but I actually went for my 21st birthday and the experience was amazing so I’d still say there, even though I’ve already been.

Who is your biggest culinary inspiration?

I’ve got a few actually. It would be all the top chefs who have achieved a lot in their career so people like William Curley, Michel Roux Jr and Gordon Ramsey. For the pastry aspect it would be Mary Berry.

Who was your mentor?

I was a little nervous at each stage but actually really enjoyed the process. Once I got into the zone I loved it all but the butcher and fishmongery tasks were my favourite part of the exam.

Ian Spencer from the Royal Household was my mentor and he won the Mentors Award which was amazing after all he had done to help me. He taught me how to do any tasks I was unsure of and showed me the best way to do all the skill elements.

>>> Read more about the awards and find out more about past graduates here

I brainstormed loads of ideas on what I could create if different ingredients came up and we sat down together and discussed how they would work in reality. He helped throughout the whole process and that support made such a difference.

How did you feel when you found out you had passed?

I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t happy with what I had done on the mystery basket so it was actually a real shock. When Ian was announced as the winner of the mentor award it proved to me that I had performed way better than I thought. Victoria Scupham 4 low res

Tell us about some of your career highlights since the exam

Since passing the exam I have received the Rising Star Award and also competed in the Young National Chef of the Year (YNCOTY) competition and came in the top eight. Graduates get seeded into the heats of the YNCOTY so despite my fear of competitions I was put to the test even further. The YNCOTY final at The Restaurant Show was incredible and I was proud of what I achieved. Competing is actually my proudest achievement so far as it’s something I never thought I would be able to do a few years ago.

Only 48 people have ever passed this exam, how do you feel knowing you are part of such an elite group?

I didn’t know that until now but it makes me feel pretty proud of myself.

What would you say to young people considering entering this examination?

It’s definitely a great experience because it boosts your confidence and shows what you can do. When you are in the exam room it’s all about what you can achieve when you are on your own. Having the opportunity to meet other people is also really good as you get to see how other chefs do things outside of your own work kitchen. If you do decide to enter, my advice would be to enjoy the whole process and practice whenever you can. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and research ideas and explore different combinations of flavours so you are prepared for the mystery basket.

Victoria Scupham 2 low resWhy do you think the industry needs events like the Graduate Awards?

It showcases that we still do have great chefs that are coming into the industry. People don’t always think being a chef is a great job but you can achieve so much. There’s so many new skills to be learnt and ideas to be created. At the awards night last year Steve Munkley told us that in 2016 there would be a Pastry Graduate Award. I am really pleased that this is happening as it takes a lot of technique and skill and this news is going to really showcase the talent pastry chefs have.

***The closing date for entries is May 6 2016. Join in the conversation about the Graduate Awards by tweeting @Craft_Guild and using the hashtag #CGCGradAwards.  

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th February 2016

Spotlight on Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate, Victoria Scupham