As part of our Women in Food series we're taking a look at the culinary journey Hayleigh Whiteside has been on so far.
In 2013, Hayleigh launched her career at the age of 18, as an apprentice chef at Compass Group UK & Ireland. She started the level 2 apprenticeship in professional cookery with Eurest, the workplace catering division of Compass Group UK & Ireland. Here, she worked with senior chefs to get an insight into the world of catering, before moving on and developing her career further within the business.
After completing her apprenticeship, Hayleigh was appointed to work as a Food Development chef at the Compass Group Head Office in Chertsey. She worked alongside other chefs to create and develop new recipes before presenting them to the rest of the business, which were then used and adapted throughout the Compass’ sectors. As part of this role, Hayleigh created her very own food concept for Restaurant Associates, called “Zen Bowls” – a range of healthy vegan bowls with fresh vegetables and flavoured broth.
Hayleigh currently works at Compass’ Innovation Centre in Chertsey, where she plays an active role in food development as well as being a key member of the team that is responsible for cooking at the onsite staff restaurant.
2016 saw Hayleigh compete in the Salon Culinaire competition at Hotelympia. She was awarded a bronze medal for her culinary skills, which she demonstrated by cooking three static fish courses including, sea bass with sea vegetables, scallops with romanesco and mackerel with burnt cucumber in the Restaurant Fish Course element of the competition.
She has also had the opportunity to visit various suppliers across the country and in Europe to gain a deeper insight into a range of different foods.
On Women in Food:
“It’s exciting to be part of a company that is taking the shortage of female chefs seriously and has introduced a scheme to tackle the issue. I think more women need support from a young age to come into the food business, and I believe it all begins with education, like the apprenticeship that I took on. If young women are encouraged to start a career in food they are more likely to pursue it. Because I started in the kitchen at quite a young age, I was respected as a learner and this helped build my confidence in the kitchen environment. I think the Women in Food scheme is key to showing that women shouldn't be intimidated by the challenging working environment that being in the kitchen involves – it’s such an exciting and diverse industry for women to be involved in.”
On Compass Group UK & Ireland:
“I have thoroughly enjoyed building my career as a chef and working for Compass Group UK & Ireland over the past few years. I have been given many opportunities to expand my knowledge in all aspects of the business and I have also had the opportunity to work alongside many great chefs who have always been supportive of my learning. I enjoy working at the Innovation Centre as we always have various events to work on – it’s an exciting place to be.”