Kelly’s an inspiration in the kitchen

on Mar 07 in Blog, Food and Drink, Food and Drink in Shropshire, News, Spotlight, Uncategorized

If there’s one thing I really like, its people who are passionate about what they do.  So when I met Kelly Jones at the launch of Shropshire’s 100 apprentices in 100 days event in January, I wanted to know more.

Its eight months since Kelly joined HEFF, or Heart of England Fine Foods to give the organisation its full name, as an apprentice.  However, its clear she’s already made a great impression judging by the heartfelt comments made by HEFF Chief Executive, Karen Davies at the event.

The praise was sincere and with Kelly having made biscuits for the assembled audience its clear her career is off to a sweet start.

I went to meet her at HEFF HQ at Shropshire Food Enterprise Centre (SFEC).

It could all have been so different.  Kelly it seems began her culinary journey by chance when she was asked if she would like a part time job washing up at the Royal Hill in Melverley.  Having previously imagined herself as a fitness instructor, she found she liked the buzz of the kitchen.

She says: “ I really took to pressure, the intense work ethic and the need to react quickly.”

Skills that were undoubtedly useful for her apprentice trial day. Thrust in at the deep end she found herself part of Shrewsbury’s Big Curry, where army chefs challenged the civilian chefs from the Taste Kitchen, part of HEFF and SFEC, to a five hour cook-off raising funds for ABF The Soldier’s Charity.

Since then she’s been on stage with Gino di Campo at the Shrewsbury Flower Show, which she says taught her that cooking isn’t always stressful it can be great fun too.

“Gino is a real showman and the whole experience was really good fun.  He’s a total crowd pleaser and wished me luck in my career.”

She also assists HEFF’s development chef Ed Warren on his many demonstrations and has cooked for MP’s and Minster’s of State.

Talking to Kelly it’s easy to see how much she enjoys the day job and to see her drive and enthusiasm for her new career.

HEFF is a great place for any young person looking to further their career in food.  Not only is Kelly cooking in the kitchen when she’s not at college, she’s also got a unique insight into the food business because of HEFF’s work promoting the food of Shropshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire, Birmingham, the Black Country, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

The impressive Shropshire Food Enterprise Centre on Battlefield Enterprise Park also house the premises of a number of local producers who Kelly has got to know and whom she has helped develop products with.

She has also helped cook products from HEFF members at important ‘Meet the Buyer’ events with larger retailers.

She says: “I get to see the whole supply chain which is really unique so I’m using the year at HEFF to learn as much as possible.  The apprenticeship has been great, I feel more confident within myself and I’m taking things in my stride.”

Indeed nothing from the year so far seems to have fazed Kelly; she’s a pretty fearless young woman.  So what does the future hold?

“Well I know that being a chef is what I want to do for the rest of my life and I’m determined to be the best I can be.  An exchange trip to Italy really sparked a love of Italian food so I’d like to learn more about that and one day I’d like to have a boutique hotel, that’s the dream.”

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing Kelly, like a lot of young people leaving school what she really wanted was a chance to show what she was capable of.  Having secured her apprenticeship it’s evident that she’s grasping the opportunity with both hands, a knife, fork and spoon!



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