A former catering student is on a fast track in her career after winning a worldwide competition and securing three promotions in just five years.

mary picMary Palecek, 25 secured a job as a commis chef at Sundial Group's Highgate House in Creaton as she came to the end of her Level 3 catering course at Northampton College. Five years on, and Mary has managed to work her way up through the kitchen to chef de parti, senior chef de parti and more recently sous chef, also moving to work at Sundial’s well-established Warwickshire conference venue, Woodside, during that time.

Her talent and strong work ethic sets her aside in the kitchen and her head chef was so impressed he even entered her into the junior category of a celebrated international catering challenge – Global Copper Skillet Competition – where she scooped the winning title.

Mary said, “Winning the competition has been a highlight of my career so far. I had heard about it but never felt confident enough to put myself forward. I have always been keen to learn new skills and cooking is my passion but to enter a global competition like that can be a bit daunting. I am not a nervous person but it was a scary prospect. I went in with the mind-set of getting the experience rather than winning and it paid off because I actually beat everyone to the top.”

Mary travelled to UCLA Meyer & Renee Luskin Conference Center in Los Angeles to compete. She was up against chefs from IACC Americas, Australia-Asia-Pacific and European member venues but it was her dish of sautéed courgette and aubergine, poached sea bass, pan fried sirloin, red pepper, tomato and coriander salsa, heritage carrots and caramelised shallots that wowed the judges.

northampton college students help in the kitchen

Some of the biggest chefs in Northampton are coming together to stage a one-off binquet at Northampton College – with diners treated to a slap-up meal made of food destined for the rubbish dump.

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