Real life stories

Whether you're thinking about your job or training options, there's almost certainly somebody, somewhere, with a story to tell that might help inspire you to make your next move.

Caroline Tait - School cook

Name: Caroline Tait

Job Role: School cook

School: Dunrossness Primary School, Shetland

Bio: Cook-in-charge at a primary school

I work at Dunrossness Primary School, Dunrossness, Shetland where I am cook-in-charge. I was encouraged to apply for this position by my supervisor, the SIC Catering Manager. I already worked for the Shetland Islands Council in another primary school as a kitchen assistant.

My tasks are to prepare and cook both courses (main meal and pudding) to be served that day with the help of my assistant cook and two kitchen assistants. I supervise the team ensuring that the health, safety, hygiene and security rules are followed. I monitor the correct use of cleaning materials and ensure the cleaning schedule is followed and I ensure the Cooksafe regulations are followed and documented every day – hot/cold holding food temperatures, fridge temperatures, delivery records etc.

We need a good understanding of the regulations, Cooksafe, HACCP, Risk Assessments and COSHH.  We need a very good knowledge of cooking and presenting food.

I have an SVQ2 in Professional Cookery, an SVQ3 in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership and the rest of my knowledge has been gained working up the ladder from the very bottom over the last 12 years when I first stepped into a school canteen to help out one day they were short staffed.

We are provided with training in Elementary Food Hygiene, Elementary Food and Health and First Aid. We do refresher courses when necessary.

I like providing a nutritious and economic meal to the pupils, ensuring they go back to class with a full tummy ready for an afternoon's learning. We like to encourage them to try new dishes and flavours to broaden their minds. I enjoy the company of the staff and the good teamwork we have. The parents are great and very supportive too. It is challenging at the moment with budget cuts and changes but we have to plough on through doing the best job we can with what we have to work with.

Caroline Tait