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Our News

17 July 2012

Leo cooks up a storm in Kensington

A Hospitality & Catering student from Cardiff and Vale College was so impressive during his work experience at a prestigious London hotel that it has employed him.

Leo Hacker, 17 and from Cardiff, has been hired to work at the Royal Garden Hotel in London’s well-heeled Kensington. Executive Head Chef Steve Munkley has also arranged for Leo to attend Ealing College for one day a week so that he can finish his qualifications.

“I was really excited to start, but now it’s getting a bit scary although I am still really looking forward to working at the Royal Garden Hotel,” Leo admitted. “It’s a lot to take on but it’s a fantastic opportunity. We’re going up soon so I can show my mum where I will be staying to help put her mind at rest!”

Leo is also part of a group of nine Hospitality & Catering PTA students who will assist with catering at the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, which he sees as a practice run for his new job.

Leo came to Cardiff and Vale College aged 16 on a Pathways to Apprenticeship Chef’s Diploma programme. Having started at Level 1 on his PTA, he was soon boosted to the Level 2 course.

Leo also won the Welsh leg of the FutureChef of the Year 2012 competition and represented Wales in the London final, where Royal Garden Kensington Head Chef Steve Munkley was one of the judges. He was soon taken on for a week’s work placement.

At the hotel, Leo worked on pastry which is the area of cuisine that most interests him. “It was weird, sometimes,” he said. “I might spend the day cracking eggs that would be used the next day – I’ve never worked on that kind of scale before.

Pastry is what I’m most interested in but this time I will be working all over the kitchen.”

Leo came to CAVC’s Barry site because he has always wanted to be a chef and the College’s reputation attracted him.

“CAVC has been a really good college, I like all the people I have met here and I’ve made some good friends,” Leo said. “I met some of the Level 2 students at a Springboard Summer School so I already knew some people. It’s been really cool and Chef Fairlie is amazing – I’ve recommended the College to friends.

“I’ve always wanted to be a chef – it just seems normal to me. It was just obvious when I was growing up that I was going to be a chef. I want to work in pastry and I want to eventually work in Manhattan. I’m not bothered where, as long as it’s in Manhattan.”

His tutors have been impressed by Leo’s commitment and hard work. Senior Chef Lecturer Kevin Fairlie explained: “At a younger age than most, at 16 years old Leo has achieved in a year what most achieve in two or more years. The experiences that Leo has had in his period at Cardiff and Vale College are unrivalled.

“As his course tutor I can honestly say that Leo has made some incredible achievements such as winning FutureChef Wales, and competing in the UK finals in a short space of time. He is a shining example of what can be achieved while studying at college. I wish Leo the best of luck for his future which I have no doubt will be extremely bright.”