EP is proud to work with UKCC whose primary aim is to support the development of diverse culinary talent, from all across the world, in their UK careers. Given the challenges the industry are facing at this moment in time, this is an important ambition.
Chef Malick is still a young man but was the Student Chef Champion at the British Student Culinary Competition held only this October. He has already operating at a Sous Chef and has the ambition to one day have his own restaurant both in the UK and in his home country of Senegal.
Heart warningly, Malick does pay strong recognition to the UK education system as standing at the core of his success.
Malick told his story to EP: “There is no doubt that it was my teachers at Bedfordshire College who helped me so much. They opened the door to a lot of opportunities to work at charity dinners and also would recommend me to their friends. I guess they saw something in me which they can both trust and nurture but whatever it was, there is little doubt they gave me much appreciated support.
I think all talent needs to be encouraged and this is what this group of teachers did for me.
I also have to pay special tribute to my mother who has always been my greatest pillar in support of my talent. I remember every time I was going to a competition she was more nervous them I was; often praying for my success.
I just want to add that it hasn’t been an easy journey for me to reach this stage in my career. I have struggled. I used to spend hours walking to college in the rain, cold and snow as I wanted to spend my spare money on food ingredients and to practice my skills. I worked part-time to pay my bills and to send money back home to my mother. She has been my inspiration and I want my work to be her legacy as she encouraged me even when I wanted to walk away.
Thanks to my teachers, I have entered a lot of competitions. It has allowed me to test my skills and benchmark my progress. I love cooking so I practice as much as I can. It can be difficult to find time when one works as a chef but I tell myself I need to do it and hone my skills.
What the competitions have allowed me to do is build my confidence in the kitchen, to be brave enough to innovate and try new things.
Feedback always helps, especially when one does not win as this is how one can learn and improve. I know a lot of people don’t like losing but it happens. One just has to learn from those moments when things do not go your way.
What the does the future hold for you? What are your career ambitions?
I just want to keep on learning and growing. Ultimately, I want to have my own restaurant in the UK and also back home in Senegal. There is an increased interest in African food styles which is understandable as African cuisine does possess strong flavours which will appeal to many. Senegal has some great natural produce which helps me develop dishes which are different from those in the UK. I
My dream is to open a kitchen academy in Senegal where I can help and support young talented chefs who have not had the opportunities I have had in England. Giving back to the next generation has to be my biggest ambition.
Hospitality is like a family. We have to support one another, encourage those with talent, open doors for others just as my teachers at Bedfordshire College did so for me. Without their support, which goes unrecognised, I would not be where I am. However, so much more needs to be done.
I see great young talents both here and in Senegal so if I can support and encourage them, then I am doing something of real value.
It is a great industry but we all need to do more to make it better”