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Our student Vicky Knight (centre) is crowned Student of the Year 2013 by the Association of Colleges

Perry Torrance

Perry Torrance
  • Cookery & Food Studies

With 13 GCSEs under his belt including 1 A* and 10 A grades, Perry (age 18) joined Barking & Dagenham College in September 2013 to train to be a chef. Perry, who juggles jobs at Bird of Smithfield and at Tasty Affair Catering, alongside his studies, is about to start on the next level of his City & Guilds Diploma in Professional Cookery and gives some advice to others who are thinking about their next step this summer. “I’ve had the ambition to be a chef since I was young. It is a creative career but also challenging: there is a real adrenalin rush when you work under such time pressure but you have produced something amazing on the plate. Producing a beautiful plate of food, receiving praise from the Head Chef, and hearing the customers enjoyed your work is a spectacular feeling. “I suppose my idol is Jamie Oliver. I admire what he has done to make everyday food better – especially his work with schools. “I am ambitious. I was expected to go to my local 6th form but they didn’t have the course I wanted. A Levels are not always the way to get the job you want. I applied to Barking & Dagenham College and fortunately got in. “My goal is to set up my own corporate catering business and produce the highest quality food on a large scale. “My advice to anyone who is waiting for their GCSE results is to look around and get all the information you can. Don’t just do A Levels because that’s what your mates are doing. Think about what you are good at and what you enjoy – could that be a career option for you? I hope like me you will train for something you really enjoy.”

Alan Bird, founder of Bird of Smithfield and former executive chef at The Ivy, is full of praise: “I am so impressed with Perry. He has great discipline and talent for someone so young – he listens well and has focus. He has the ability to block out all the kitchen banter and focus on the task in hand. I can’t praise him enough. “Someone gave me a chance when I was starting out and I am delighted to be able to do the same.”

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