Culinary award for Ipswich dad, 47, who retrained as chef

PUBLISHED: 18:32 20 November 2020

Ipswich student chef Jamie McLeod made the switch to cooking from social work  Picture: JAMIE MCLEOD

Ipswich student chef Jamie McLeod made the switch to cooking from social work Picture: JAMIE MCLEOD


An Ipswich man is calling on others to make the leap to a happy working life after retraining as a chef in his 40s.

Oxford graduate Jamie McLeod, 47, spent more than two decades in the social work industry before moving to Ipswich with his family.

And with his new home life came the spur to try something new, with the father-of-three enrolling on a food course at Suffolk New College last year – only to be named the catering and hospitality student of the year.

Mr McLeod said it was an easy decision to pursue his love of cooking, having always loved preparing meals for family and friends since he was young.

He said: “I have always loved cooking from an early age, and continued to cook for my family, but wanted to look at my options to retrain as a chef.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed this course and I can’t recommend it highly enough to others. My experience at the college has been very positive.

“The highlight was the opportunity to learn cooking techniques and prepare dishes to serve to customers in the college restaurant, as well as entering and winning the Rotary Club graduate chef of the year competition.”

Mr McLeod said winning the award was “the icing on the cake” as he finished the course and takes another step closer to achieving his dream.

Now enrolling on his level three professional chef course at the college, Mr McLeod hopes to find a full-time placement in a kitchen by next summer.
“Although changing career in your mid-40s might sound like leaving it a little late in the day, after training to be a chef I potentially have another 20 years of working life, so I still have a lot to contribute to the industry.

“The thought of making such as big change can feel daunting, but if you make enquiries at a local college and see how retraining on a vocational course might work for you, you might never look back.

I certainly wish someone had encouraged me to retrain long before this point in my life, but hopefully with another two decades of working life in front of me I am grateful to the opportunities offered by Suffolk New College to embrace a completely new challenge in my life and aim for a career as a chef.”

Craig Shimmon, marketing manager at the college, added he is thrilled to see him return for another year.

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