Desmond Smith, lecturer, City of Bristol College

The Staff Canteen
Desmond Smith

Desmond Smith discusses his role as Hospitality Lecturer at City of Bristol College and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Desmond Smith

Place of work: City of Bristol College

Role: Hospitality Lecturer

Bio: Desmond is a hospitality lecturer at the City of Bristol College, and before this he worked at Worcester College of Technology for almost ten years, starting as a restaurant trainer and working his way up to become course leader.

Chef Skills

Desmond Smith takes us through his personal experiences whilst being in the Culinary Industry. These key skills that young Chefs and industry professionals learn as part of their basic training.

How long have you been in this role?

I have been working at City of Bristol College for 2 years now before that I was at another college for nearly 10 years, working my way up from restaurant trainer to course leader.

What are your ultimate top five tips for someone looking to start a career in the hospitality sector?

Get training, be it at a college, apprenticeship or on the job. They all have their advantages but for me, colleges provide young people with the widest possible range of skills and experience. Colleges also help build the confidence and self-belief that they need to be successful in their career.

Get work experience, be it through a part time job, work experience placements or volunteering. Do not limit yourself to just hotels and restaurants. The industry is so much larger and varied, with a range of establishments and outlets. It is a rewarding industry to be in but they have to know they are right for it.

Get out into the world of hospitality. Try new foods, go shopping in local markets, meet producers at farmer’s markets, cook with new ingredients, through all of it think about the experience and learn from it.

Get advice and guidance from those around you, from your college lecturer, your employer or mentor. There is a wealth of guidance and advice out there from people who have been in the industry for many years. You can learn a lot from their experience which will help young people throughout their career.

 Get used to hard work. The hospitality industry is a career that rewards hard work. People just starting out have to work hard to develop themselves. To develop skills both practical and personal they have to put the time in. It is the only way they can improve.

What are the main things that aspiring Chefs should be doing to build their CVs up?

As a manager in the industry, I would look for three things on a person’s CV: Level of training, work experience and passion. Training would come through their qualifications they have achieved. Experience would come through their jobs, work or volunteering placements. Passion is harder to see but I wanted to see someone with a real interest in their chosen career. This would usually come through what else have they done, such as competitions, additional placements or short courses.

Who are the key Chefs and restaurants that someone should be speaking to and trying to gain experience with?

As people enter the industry the best place to start is to look at their local trade. There will be a wealth of experience and skills on their doorstep. Getting to know who is successful or who has a good reputation in their local area will help them understand who they can contact to gain experience. Colleges like ours work closely with local employers and can help match young people with employers to help further their careers.

How important would you say further education is in this industry?

Further education is a very important aspect for the industry as a whole. There is a skill shortage across the board in the industry and at all levels. Further education offers people a structured and inclusive level of training and experience covering a wide range of styles and skills that some employers do not have the resources to offer. College provides an important link between aspiring professionals and employers and works for the benefit of both.

Any other tips from a lecturer’s perspective?

Get involved, ask questions and try everything, be it food, drink or an experience. Learn from your mistakes and when you’re successful ask yourself “how I could do it better?” Never stop learning.

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Editor 11th May 2017

Desmond Smith, lecturer, City of Bristol College