Aga Bernaciak is our current Compass Apprentice Chef of the Year, and more recently she celebrated being named Trainee Chef of the Year at the prestigious Foodservice Cateys! Here’s her Rising Star Q&A which appeared in Contract Catering Magazine in the summer.
What do you currently do?
I currently work as a chef for ESS Government Services which supports sites across police, secure environments, local and central government. I’m also working towards completing my Chef de Partie Level 3 Apprenticeship which I began almost a year ago – I love apprenticeships because they allow me to work and learn at the same time, enabling me to develop my skills and progress as a chef.
Why did you want to work in foodservice?
I have always enjoyed cooking and being able to do this alongside writing my own new recipes and being creative is the main reason I wanted to join the foodservice industry. I love to show my imagination and culinary knowledge, particularly when paying attention to the small details within my dishes.
How did you come to enter Compass Apprentice Chef of the Year?
I entered the competition because it was a great opportunity for me to show my character and abilities outside of my own kitchen. It took me out of my comfort zone, as during the competition I had to manage my workload under pressure and against the clock.
What was the entry process?
We had to get through the semi-final heat first and then for the final we had to create three courses, which had to be cooked and presented within a 3-hour time limit.
Marcus Wareing judged both competitions and, after the final, he said he was blown away by the progress of all competitors from the semi-final to the final.
How did it feel when you found out you had won?
Initially, I was in complete shock but was extremely happy with what I had managed to achieve in the competition. I really didn’t expect to win, so to be named as the winner was simply amazing!
How do you see your career developing?
Completing this apprenticeship will give me qualifications and skills which will be fully recognisable in any chef-environment in the future.
I really enjoy competing – creating beautiful and delicious plates of food under the watchful eye of the judges was a great learning experience. Listening to advice from judges such as Marcus is a great way to develop my career and evolve my culinary skills.
What is your biggest ambition?
Before the competition, my biggest ambition was to win the Compass Apprentice Chef of the Year competition. Now I have done this, I have proved to myself that anything is possible! I want to pass my final assessments and would love to create my own new dish or menu, that would one day be served at one of the Compass sites.