Amazing Canadian placement took Naomi out of her comfort zone

February 2016

Naomi Morris always wanted to go to Canada but feared the costs, visa difficulties and her limited kitchen skills would hamper a “long-haul” student hospitality placement.

However, managers at the luxury Wickaninnish Inn, British Columbia, praised her for having the “right attitude” and, together with University College Birmingham, helped to make the Culinary Arts Management student’s dream a reality.

Naomi applauded the support provided by hired@UCB, the University’s careers, employability and enterprise service. Amid fears she might not be quick enough in the resort’s kitchen, she simply strived learn, used her initiative – and tried not to make mistakes.

When Naomi was put on night shifts, she said she drew on the resolve she learned during previous work with the Army. The Canadian chefs commended her transferrable skills, saying: “You have been in the Army – you can do anything!”

Managers spotted her potential and she was given a managerial role in the kitchen as chef garde manger. Naomi was in charge of the cold appetisers, amuse-bouches and ordering restaurant stock. When the restaurant ran out of oysters one night, Naomi thought on her feet and phoned neighbouring restaurants to ask if they could help.

She said she was worried how the head chef would react but was delighted to be shaken by the hand and praised for her quick thinking.

Naomi used her initiative to gain experience front of house and worked the early morning breakfast shifts to develop a full understanding of the catering operation. Asked about the highlights of the experience, she said: “It was amazing to see the customers being blown away by the food when it came out.”

Despite her initial anxieties, Naomi received high praise from the head chef, who complimented her on her attitude and her passion for the job. As well as gaining experience of preparing fruit and vegetables, she worked with lots of different seafood including octopus.

During the experience, she learned about modern culinary techniques such as molecular gastronomy and was able to visit Canada when her placement was complete.

Naomi described the experience as “challenging” but urged students to persevere. She said: “The more you put in, the more you get back. We have the backing of such a strong team at UCB. Take advantage of going somewhere out of your comfort zone, to push yourself, to challenge yourself.

“UCB will sort your visa out. It’s just so easy so make sure that you take advantage of it. Stick at it because the time goes so quick. It’s worth it.”

  • For information and guidance on working abroad, visit hired@UCB on 7th floor, Summer Row
  • For more information about the Wickaninnish Inn, Canada, go to: www.wickinn.com 
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