With a background in creative arts, a spell in retail and a university degree under his belt, TJ found himself looking for a new creative challenge. Inspired by his family’s love for food and his sister’s thriving patisserie business, he decided to retrain as a chef with an apprenticeship at The Wolseley. Here, he shares a little more about what skills he’s gained so far and his ambitions for the future.
How did you become interested in hospitality and why did you choose The Wolseley for your apprenticeship?
I’ve always had a passion for creativity, especially the arts. I studied at University of the Arts London, Camberwell, LCC and University of East London; and have even put on shows at the Tate Modern! After lockdown – where I’d spent a lot of time cooking – I felt like I need a new creative outlet. I wanted something character building too.
Hospitality felt like a new challenge and career path for me, which could bring together my skills and passions; The Wolseley was my fourth or fifth interview, but I knew it was where I wanted to be as soon as I arrived – it’s a unique environment!
What ‘skills for life’ have you gained from your time here at The Wolseley?
Patience! Fortitude and compassion. Also, how to deal with people from all backgrounds and communicate effectively under pressure.
What have you enjoyed most about your time here at The Wolseley?
I think for me the learning aspect – you could never have this experience anywhere else in the industry. I also like that I’m able to draw on my creative experience to develop my skills; for example, I’d never really understood how important garnishing is to really make a dish excellent. Now, I understand how all those small components come together – it’s like a work of art.
Also, the team are always ready to welcome you and share their knowledge and experience, which is not what I’d expected from a kitchen environment.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
My sister is a successful pastry chef – and has often roped me in to help her out over the years – and mum is a food scientist, so you could say my path to becoming a chef had been created before I even realised! Ideally, I would love to be running a family business with my sister, bringing in influences from our culture and experience in the arts.
What would you tell someone else who was looking to begin their career in hospitality with an apprenticeship?
You need to be open to learning, work well under pressure and think on your feet. If you have a passion for food and cooking, then I think an apprenticeship can be really helpful for discovering the industry and forging your career.