Inspiring stories: spotlight on Lily Biggs
Lily joined the River Cottage team as a Young Chef Apprentice after getting through to the final round of our Rising Star 2014 competition. Read about Lily's culinary journey and how she can realise her dream of being a mad food scientist.
Before I started my apprenticeship at River Cottage I had just finished studying A Levels. I took Engineering, German and Product Design, which fed my creative side as I love looking at components and materials and learning how they can fit together to create a masterpiece. I guess that’s why I love cooking so much; looking at ingredients and learning how to create a perfect, harmonious dish and making those flavours shine. Throughout my studies I worked as a chef for Pizza Hut, which ignited the yearning to become a chef; I am grateful for the responsibility they gave me. They also trained me up as a waitress - interacting with customers really broadened my view of the hospitality industry.
When I found out about River Cottage’s apprenticeship scheme, I jumped at the opportunity to gain knowledge from River Cottage while working in a professional kitchen. Ever since I was small, I would watch Hugh transform simple ingredients into amazing plates of food. The ethos of River Cottage has really inspired me to think about what I’m cooking – to purchase local and sustainable produce and to be passionate about my food.
Since starting at River Cottage, I have a new view on the type of ingredients I use and how I prepare them. I’ve just started, but from the few days of training I’ve done so far I’ve learnt so many new techniques. I’m testing out my new skills on my parents, going through Hugh’s Light and Easy book with some of my own twists – they love it!
My parents have been super-supportive of me and will spread the word to anyone that will listen to how proud of me she is! I think my mum might actually be more excited than I was about studying with River Cottage! I honestly couldn’t ask for anyone better – she even bought me my own set of professional knives that she knows I’ve had my eye on for a while. My dad is equally excited for me; he encourages me to try out my new skills on him, my very own guinea pig! The rest of the family are also incredibly proud and supportive of me, they can't believe that I've got this far!
At the moment I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I finish, but obviously I would love to go into the culinary trade. I can see myself as a ‘mad food scientist’ – experimenting with flavours and creating my own recipes!
Lily’s mum, Sharron says:
I am really enthused by what Lily is doing and the more I find out, the more interested I become. We all enjoy cooking in our house and have always encouraged Lily to learn as much as possible, never thinking that she would want to pursue it for a career. I am so proud of her.
We've booked our staff Christmas meal at the Bristol River Cottage Canteen and I've been spreading the River Cottage 'word' whenever I can (obviously giving Lily a good plug!), but I think the apprenticeship scheme is such a fantastic opportunity for all the youngsters. We found out about it via the Internet and once I’m planning to contact her sixth form to give them all the details.