Monday, 20 August 2012

Swapping pens for pans (Featured in Mouth)

Mouth is preparing to scream school’s out and spend summer sipping sweet ciders beside smoking barbecues. But spare a thought for KU student Sebastian Holmes, who will instead be spending the summer coping with epic temperatures while he slogs it out in the kitchen.

The media and cultural arts student, originally from Oxford, will swap pens for pans and work at the King’s Arms Hotel and Restaurant in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, with a small team of chefs cooking up 120 covers a day. The 22 year old, who is in his final year at Kingston, has worked at the King’s Arms, which has a grade one rosette, for the last seven years during breaks from studying and travelling.
But the student isn’t just a glutton for punishment, his part time work is actually all part of a master plan to become a food journalist. Sebastian decided that this was his vocation when he travelled for eight months through Fiji, New Zealand, Thailand and Australia. Originally he debated whether travel journalism or food journalism was for him but settled on the latter as he already had years of experience as a chef.
He began working with food from the age of 13, in an Oxfordshire kitchen when a family connection led him to a chef position. Before Sebastian knew it he was serving hundreds of customers a day and had developed a passion for food and plenty of skills. “I felt that I was pretty good so I worked in a few busier kitchens, though only part time as I was at school,” says Sebastian. Sebastian then met the head chef at the King’s Arms who gave him a job. “The standard of food at the King’s was leagues above anything I had previously been involved in, so god knows why he gave me the chance,” he says.
The foresighted individual feels that returning to the King’s Arms every summer is something he must do, not only to fund his education, but to keep his culinary skills in check. He feels his part time job keeps him on his toes, as he is constantly thrown in at the deep end when he returns to the hotel because he is expected to be a fully fledged member of the team on each return.
Also part of the master plan is the student’s successful food blog, on which Sebastian posts recipes and ideas, often inspired by student budgets. He also freelances, writing recipes and articles for a number of publications. Most recently Sebastian was commissioned by a publication to live on a budget of £54.54 for a week, which is the same budget an under-25 on benefits is likely to live on. The chef also intends to have a recipe book published within the next five years.
Sebastian hopes that his course in media and cultural studies, his published work and experience in the kitchen will take him one step closer to his dream job. He says: “My degree will do me favours but my extracurricular activities will make me stand out on paper.”

Written by Cara Louise Lawson

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