Chef Laura’s Tearful Journey
You may have read the recent story by Laura that I heard while I was in Val D’Isere, France. Well, I’m here to tell you another story about a chef interview, told by a different Laura. This Laura was the incredible chef that worked in our chalet for the week. I am not joking when I say this was the most delicious food I have ever eaten! First off, I was not expecting four course meals. Second, she was absolutely amazing and such a sweet person to get to know for the week! But enough about the food, let’s hear her story:
Laura did not start out with a career as a chef. She actually went to University to study something completely different. After working in an office for a couple of years, she decided she absolutely hated working at a desk all day and needed a career change (same, Laura, same). She always had the desire of becoming a chef, but, unfortunately, her student loans made it so she wasn’t able to pay for the training. Thankfully, she found a way around the traditional culinary school. Food trucks!
It turns out that you don’t need any training to work in a food truck. This was perfect for where Laura was in life because she was able to gain first hand experience and start to build her resume. A couple years flew by and Laura realized, once again, she needed a change. I give her props; two years is longer than I’ve ever lasted at one job, let alone a job in a food truck! It was time to figure out her next move.
During her university days, Laura had worked a ski season in France and had a great experience. A few friends of hers brought up the idea that she should go back for another season. Normally, Laura would pass along her ideas to her parents to hear their feedback, but not this time. Something in Laura was telling her to just get out of London and go. She started applying to different companies, including Scott Dunn, and ended up receiving an interview!
While Laura was telling us her story, this is around the time where she chuckled and started getting nervous. She said the whole interview process was just overall terrifying. The role she was applying for was to be a Chalet Chef Host. The first step of the interview process was a phone call and the next step was an office interview. At the time of the interview, Laura was a bit older than most other applicants, so she passed the first two rounds easily. The last part of the interview would be a cook test, and this was the part she was the most nervous for.
Laura showed up at a college in London for the interview. The other two chefs that were interviewing with her were much younger and had traveled from different ends of England just for this interview. The head chef started off by introducing himself and asking the others to introduce themselves to one another, including how they got to where they are with work.
“The first kid was 19 years old and working in a Michelin star restaurant up north. I was like…okay, yikes, cool. The second one was about 23 years old and was a head chef just outside of London. I was like okay, great, cool. And then they asked about me. Bare in mind, I worked in street food trucks. You were lucky if you had a knife. I just said that I worked in street food and the head chef asked if I owned my own street food company. Nope, I just work for the people at the moment.”
The group continued chatting for a bit and moved along with the interview process. Laura was feeling quite nervous as the other chefs had a different culinary experience than she did. The only thing she thought she had going for her was that she had worked a ski season previously. They proceeded into the kitchen and were told to go change into their chef whites. At this point during her story telling, Laura faced us and said, “All my clothes were from Primark, I didn’t own any chef whites.” She had brought along a pair of chef pants that she had acquired recently and changed into those with a plain t-shirt. The other two chefs came out looking very pristine and well put together. Whatever, Laura, Primark is the best!
This would absolutely be my worst nightmare. On top of stressing about being in an interview, the competitors look perfect! No, thank you. Laura continued on, “They walked in and whipped out their knife rolls. I didn’t even own knives back them. I had scrounged some off of my dad for the interview. I didn’t have a knife roll, but I had to take them onto the train and the bus, so I ended up wrapping the knives up in bubble wrap and tea towels. I was like, here are my three knives in a tea towel!”
Laura told us how intense the cook test was. They were given random ingredients and told to make canapés in twenty minutes! She found out afterwards that the head chef was filming them cooking and replayed the tapes on fast-forward to evaluate. Just thinking about that gives me anxiety. The cook test lasted the whole day with the same process and they had to make canapés, starters, and a main course. After each course, they had to stand in front of the “judges” and the other chefs to explain what was made. The thought of standing in front of other chefs and explaining a meal that I made gives me the shivers.
It turned out to be one of the hardest things Laura had ever done. One of the ingredients was trout, which she had never cooked, and another was duck. Apparently they were not given enough time to cook the duck, so all of the chefs’ main courses were undercooked! At least it wasn’t just one of them. For dessert, they were given pears, so Laura made raisin stuffed pears. My mouth was watering at this point of the story-telling.
At the end of their cooking, they were told to change into their normal clothes and come back in for an individual debriefing. “I felt like I was holding my breath for the entire day,” Laura explained. The HR lady turned out to be absolutely lovely during her debriefing. But when Laura was asked how she thought the interview went, she burst into tears! The HR lady immediately told Laura not to worry because she had one hundred percent received the job. Laura commented, “I called my dad on the way out and cried the whole way home to him.”
Once Laura made it to the French Alps, she was on a two-week probationary training. It was basically like an extended interview. They were to do what was called “Ready, Steady, Cook.” This meant that they were sent to a chalet on their own and given 15 minutes to make a meal out of surprise ingredients and present it to the judges. Yes, just like the show Chopped! They had test dinners with the judges acting as the guests, which determined where they would be placed for the rest of the winter season. So, not only did Laura have to do three interviews before she received her position as a Chef Host, but she also had to continue to prove that she deserved to be there throughout her winter season.
I absolutely loved sitting down and hearing Laura tell this story. I knew she was a hard worker because of the way she presented herself throughout the week. But to hear how she came to be in the position she is in was inspiring. It was so easy to relate to her when she spoke about bursting into tears during her interview. We’ve all felt that amount of stress, and I definitely know what it’s like to not be able to hold in your emotions any longer. The moral of the story is that if you have a dream, travel related or not, don’t change who you are to reach that dream. You’re perfect just the way you are.