A TEENAGER from Wearside is learning the art of gastronomy after landing his dream job with a Michelin-starred chef.
Dylan Smith is creating a la carte cuisine at celebrity chef Simon Rogan’s eatery Rogan & Co, the sister restaurant of two Michelin star L’Enclume.
The culinary talents of 19-year-old Dylan, who has just finished studying an apprenticeship at Sunderland College, are now being honed at the three AA rosette restaurant in Cartmel, Cumbria where he has been appointed as commis chef.
Dylan, from Whitburn in Sunderland, said: “When I found out I had the job I was ecstatic, but very shocked. This is such a massive opportunity for me.
“Simon Rogan is an amazing chef and I’m going to learn so much in this job. He is very much all about growing his own produce, making the best out of simple ingredients and making it taste really good. This is a big step up for me but I’m very happy that I have this chance to learn and develop my cooking skills.
“I hope that I’ll be able to impress the team at Rogan & Co and will then move to L’Enclume. I don’t think many 19-year-olds can say they’re working at a three AA rosette restaurant with the chance to move to a two Michelin star restaurant. I’m very grateful.”
Dylan’s passion for cooking began at a young age and it was thanks to his grandparents that even before he left school, he could rustle up an array of home-cooked meals.
“I’ve wanted to be a chef since the age of five,” said Dylan. “I would watch my nanna and grandad as they cooked. They would be in the kitchen making a roast, and there would be me popping my head above the bench trying to help out.
“As I got older I found out more about cooking and all the things you can do with food. I watch Great British Menu and programmes on the food channels, and I find it really interesting to see how far you can go with food.
“I’ve grown up learning how to cook good old fashioned meals like shepherd’s pie and bacon with cabbage, and one day I’d like to make simple dishes like these into fine dining cuisine. There is so much you can do with just a few humble ingredients to make a dish taste amazing and enhance the original flavour.”
Dylan first got the chance to cook in a professional kitchen at Sunderland College’s former training restaurant, The Lounge, when he took part in a work placement at the age of 15.
Once he left school, he joined Sunderland College full-time where he studied level one and two diplomas in professional cookery, and became an instrumental part of the college’s culinary team – set up to give catering students the chance to develop their skills further in the restaurant kitchen.
Dylan’s journey with cooking then continued when he began an apprenticeship with Sunderland College and Hawthorns, the brasserie of the four-star Crowne Plaza in Newcastle.
He added: “I really enjoyed my time at the college. The lecturers were really supportive and showed me a lot of cooking techniques, and helped me to improve my skills. If it wasn’t for the college, I wouldn’t have had the motivation and confidence to go out and apply for this job.”
Rob Stewart, curriculum leader for catering and hospitality at Sunderland College, said: “Dylan is an extremely talented chef and has shown a great amount of commitment and passion to his studies. It has been a pleasure to watch Dylan’s flair for cooking develop over the years and it is no surprise that his talents have been snapped up by Simon Rogan and his team.
“Dylan follows a long line of Sunderland College catering students who have secured jobs at distinguished restaurants, and the college is very proud to have played a part in helping them to accomplish this level of success.”
The future is looking bright for the ambitious chef who already has a clear vision of where he sees his career going.
“I want to travel the world working at prestigious restaurants and eventually my aim is to be a three star Michelin chef,” said Dylan, who now lives in Grange-over-Sands. “I don’t think I’ll ever fall out of love with food.”
All of Sunderland College’s catering and hospitality courses are now delivered at City Campus, the college’s £30million specialist hub for technical courses.
For more information about catering and hospitality courses at Sunderland College, call 0191 5116000, email firstname.lastname@example.org.