Why did I choose Leith I hear you cry? Well, in December of 2016, when the initial thoughts of a career change had come into my thoughts yet again, I searched the internet for inspiration. I looked at cooking courses, I looked at nutrition courses, but none of them seemed to combine the two. Don’t get me wrong, all the cooking courses I looked at were amazing, but I didn’t want to cook everything in butter. Then just like a Christmas miracle, I found the Leith Nutrition in Practice course, combining my love of cooking and the science of nutrition. The creative side of me was ecstatic that I would be doing something new and the scientific portion of me was elated that what I would be learning would be of actual use.
In April 2017, I began the Leith Nutrition in Practice course, at the time it had been running for two years and all the reviews for the course were glowing. Though a lot of previous students had said ‘it is hard work’ and they weren’t kidding.
The first day was a blur, I walked into this massive kitchen which looked like an episode of Master Chef, I was almost waiting for someone to usher me into a cooking unit and say “start cooking now”, but the voice never came and as I looked around the classroom it filled up with 14 other women. All of whom were different in age, background, ethnicity and ambition. We introduced ourselves and soon started to swap stories as to why we had chosen the class, some had come to learn what to feed their families, others were starting healthy cafes and wanted to know how to feed the health aware public and others were there to see where it would take them.
The head chef was accompanied by a nutritional health expert, both of which told us the structure of each lesson. Mornings were reserved for cooking and perfecting technique whilst afternoons were all about the science of food, my happy place. They then went on to tell us that each week the lessons would have a different theme and the intensity of the classes would increase, but reassured us that we would be able to keep up. The challenge was set and I accepted!
I thought it was interesting that the whole class was made up of female students. Is it just women who are becoming health conscious? Is it only women who want to create healthy yet delicious meals? Are men set in their ways and still prefer cooking with butter?
I don’t know all the answers posed above, but what I observed was that everyone in that room was hungry for knowledge, even if their goals were just to feed their family. Constant questions were asked all the time whether it was regarding a cooking style or what was the best alternative to wheat, how seriously everyone took the course was palpable.
Also, it was interesting to note that the professions ranged from a GP, professional chef, soon to be café owner, charity worker, stay at home mother, marketing, advertising…..the list goes on but yet all had realised that what we put into our bodies is of the highest importance.
Our head chef was a fabulous woman who had a varied career and was now teaching at Leith and was very much on board with creating delicious food in an alternative way. At points though, I don’t think she fully endorsed all the methods and preferred somethings staying the way they were, because taste! In fairness, I did agree with her at points, I mean poaching a chicken breast at a low temperature in a water bath, where when you cut into the chicken it was pink whilst being completely cooked was utterly disgusting. Although, it is good to know that those options are there if ever you want to lose the will to live.
Our nutritional expert was another amazing woman who was very experienced, would freely admit if she didn’t know an answer and her teaching method really put you at ease. Of course, I learnt things I already knew owing to all the science learnt before, but there were things that I really didn’t know and bewildered that other science/medical degrees were not teaching this to students. A very simple example was, I always thought it was healthy cooking with extra virgin olive oil, WRONG!!! That’s right folks, you should never cook it with, it doesn’t have the right burning temperature, if you did know this, well done!
The adventure at Leith had begun, the classmates had been met and those in charge had set the rules. The next 3 months changed my life…