Process and structure- the cornerstones of both the catering industry and Olympic sports.

First year catering students at Penwith College had the opportunity to listen to Frances Houghton, a five time Olympian with a passion for food.

Frances delivered an insightful talk to the students about the parallels of being an athlete and being a chef, commenting that there are “loads of parallels” between the two industries. It was during Frances’ year out of sport that she first got her foot in the door of the catering industry (at Ottolenghi). Frances was also able to give nutritional tips to students who are used to working in hectic kitchens as well as tips for coping with a stressful environment. As Francis now chefs, her insight into the skills needed to thrive in the industry were really perceptive for students.

“It’s not magic, it’s method” was the key message that students took away from the talk. Student James commented on how Frances offered an “interesting perspective” on how to cope with the stress of the catering industry. Student Chloe also commented that she was surprised how similar the two industries were. Certainly, Frances’ emphasis on coupling determination, resilience and camaraderie really spoke to students starting out in the industry.

The class take advantage of the Health and Wellbeing facilities at the college to build team work on a regular basis and many are keen sports people. The Health and Wellbeing advisor, Mark Stevens commented that “the link between being active and having energy and to go and do a whole service is crucial for the students”. The transferable skills emphasised by Frances will no doubt help the students as they negotiate their way through the catering industry.