Case Study 2: Pete J
I joined the Army in 1989 as an infantry soldier after completing a 3 year Plastering Apprenticeship. I spent 8 years with the Royal Regiment of Wales (RRW) then transferred to the Army Physical Training Corps in 1998 and left the force in 2012.
Like many other service leavers, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my resettlement or what I wanted to do after leaving the Army. I didn't want to be a Personal Trainer or go back to plastering. I wanted to learn a new skill. I saw the brochure for the Gables School of Cookery, had a flick through and thought this is a course that I would love to do, because it is a life skill and a total new direction from what I’d been doing for the last 23 years. I considered other cookery schools but they didn't compare to the package the Gables was offering. I opted for the 4 week intensive course which included accommodation and free access to a local spa & fitness centre. I contacted Chris Winston at the Gables to ask for a breakdown of the costs which I took to the Resettlement office and booked onto the course. It seemed a little daunting having to pay for the whole course upfront but you can get an advance through JPA if you need it, the good news is that you get pretty much all of your money back through JPA on completion of the course.
During the course we learnt many of the hidden arts of cookery and created a wide variety of dishes. You eat what you cook so you get to sample foods you wouldn’t normally pick if it was on a menu but find you actually like it and can now create it yourself. You are given excellent career advice by the Gables and kept informed of job opportunities that arise (even after leaving the school) from working in ski resorts or on super-yachts.
The course is run in a relaxed atmosphere and at a pace that suits all abilities (no celebrity chef style shouting at the students). The accommodation is great and there is free wifi available. You receive a 500 page course manual which is full of the recipes that you cook, this is yours to keep and will become your trusted cookery bible. You are offered the opportunity to work at a local professional restaurant (Thornbury Castle) while you are there which I fully recommend because it is a great experience and a total confidence boost and eye opener. At the end of the course you plan, prepare and cook a meal for 20 people. Since leaving the school I have recreated every recipe that we cooked while on the course and many others from the manual. I make all my own bread, jams, pickles & marinades and I cook everything from scratch (there are no packet sauces or ready meals in our house).
Pete J (retired Warrant Officer RAPTC) - 4 week course