Back to School: Florence Knight

'Pick up a thread of interest and pursue it doggedly until you find your niche'

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The Independent Online

Florence Knight, head chef of Polpetto, attended Rodborough school between 1997 and 2002

1. As a teenager, what did you want to be when you were older?

A chef or a textile artist.

2. How did you get into the career you’re in now?

Hard graft. I did a Leith's Diploma, then moved from kitchen to kitchen, knives in hand, asking to be put to work. 

3. Is there anything you wish you’d known when you were younger?

Living life for the day rather than fretting about anything too far in the future. 

4. What advice would you give to young people starting out? 

Pursue what makes you happy. It might take a little time to find out what that is, so don't be afraid to throw yourself in to things, to road test them and to ask people for guidance. Even though you may think you want to be a 'chef' you might find you prefer being front of house, or a sommelier, home economist, food journalist... Pick up a thread of interest and pursue it doggedly until you find your niche. The main things are passion, being prepared to ask for help and truly believing in your own ability.

5. How much training/education did you need?

Education was important, but nothing beats training in the kitchen itself, and the learning never stops. 

6. What’s the best thing about your job?

The creativity and the people. 

7. What was the best/worst careers advice you received?

The best advice was to move kitchens regularly to learn from as many chefs as possible. The worst careers advice...telling me that my life would be over if I didn't pass Maths and Science GCSEs.

8. What do you think was the biggest advantage of your state education rather than private?

 I think you get a great cross-section of people in state education, which prepares you for life beyond school.

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