Vocational area: Catering & Hospitality
Duration: 4 weeks
Location: Seville, Spain
“Entering a kitchen full of international chefs can be daunting when you don’t speak a word of their language. To understand what they were asking me to do, I had to adapt to their way of doing things and think on my feet.”
My college lecturers encouraged me to apply. Initially, I wasn’t really interested in going, but I was persuaded after seeing a video that one of last year’s students had made. Furthermore, I wanted to use this trip to help me with my career path.
My placement was in a bustling tapas bar called Bar Antojo. I started out by preparing vegetables and collecting ingredients for the team of chefs. As the days went by, my responsibilities increased and by the end of the placement, I had worked in every section of the kitchen. I was also trusted to cook individual dish components and plate them up for the head chef to inspect before serving.
Despite the obvious language barrier with the Spanish speaking chefs, it didn’t take us long to find ways of communicating. In order to understand their requests, I had to adapt to their ways of working and think on my feet. The confidence you pick up out there is game-changing, you feel on top of the world after a day’s work.
I loved the people of Seville – unlike in the UK, you feel you can just have a conversation with someone on the side of the road. Everyone is so friendly and will go out of their way to help you. Being in a major city was also great as there were plenty of things to do in our spare time. Our group took the train to Cadiz which is a picturesque seaside town. I would definitely recommend visiting!
My biggest learning curve in Seville was living independently. Everything from washing to preparing meals was my responsibility. By the end of my placement, I felt like a valued part of the team at Bar Antojo and I consider this my biggest achievement.
I feel this experience has and will continue to help me professionally in my career path. A year ago, I purchased a 1960’s horse trailer which I converted into a mobile kitchen. Going on the placement has given me the confidence to set up my own mobile pizza business, Tom’s Pizza Revolution, and I now sell my artisan wood-fired pizzas at festivals, weddings, and farmers’ markets.
If I could say one thing to any students considering going, I would say go, and don’t look back! It’s a great opportunity, one I almost turned down, but would have lived to regret it if I stayed home.
Improved language skills
Learned to live independently
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