From education to employment

Michael Caines Academy Students discuss their Work Placement

Pink Moon Café opened on Queen Street in Exeter earlier this year and is already a firm favourite amongst students and locals alike. Three of our Michael Caines Academy students (Poppy, Kaveh and Will) have just come to the end of a six week work placement there so we went along to find out what they have been up to.

As well as Poppy, Kaveh and Will, Pink Moon is owned by two Exeter College alumni and home to many ex hospitality students. Head Chef Josh, Sous Chef Connor and Chef de Partie Finn are part of the team there. Current student Liam is also a Chef de Partie and described by Josh as having “incredible skills for his age.”

Head Chef Josh has been with the team since it opened. He describes Pink Moons food as “Californian cooking, local produce. Fresh and different. The whole ethos of pink moon is positivity and support. It’s a family and you don’t really get that it in other places. We’re forward thinking in our staff welfare.”

This was echoed by all our students currently there on work placements. Will said: “It’s like coming to work to see friends rather than colleagues.”

Josh studied on the Michael Caines Academy Level 1 and 2 course before moving on to a Michelin starred restaurant in Emsworth. He says he loved his time at college. “My 1st year was terrible but then I grew up in my second year.” One of the key skills he took with him from college was just growing up as a whole and maturing. He loved “all the trips and visits”.

Ian Biggar, Programme Lead for Hospitality, who taught Josh says:

Josh is a learner who always had great things ahead of him. His passion for food was matched only by his natural ability to bring out the finest of flavours from the simplest of ingredients. Josh always gave 100% to everything he put his mind to consistently achieving exceptional grades.”

Ian went on to say why work placements are so important for this industry.

Work placements within the Hospitality sector are a vital part of education here at Exeter College. They give a true insight into the industry, helping our students to gain skills and confidence coupled with forging industry links. This all works together to ensure our students leave us with all of the skills, confidence and contacts to succeed in their chosen specialised area of Hospitality.”

Poppy, a Level 2 academy student said that this has been a very different type of placement to what she did last year and that it’s been good to see a different side to the industry. “It’s calm and relaxed compared to a Michelin starred restaurant so there’s less pressure. It’s like an adopted family.”

What has she learnt from her time at Pink Moon?

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, they’ve helped me to relax. And I’ve enjoyed it more. After last year there was a fear to go back into the industry but that’s gone this year. Partly because I’ve learnt more and I’m more confident.”

Will echoes these thoughts and said:

“It’s quite chilled. I don’t feel the pressure. There is an expectation but it’s in a nice way. The whole experience has made me better at dealing with customers and taught me patience. I’m looking forward to having more responsibility next year and supervising others. Front of house is definitely what I want to do, I think my placement has helped me realise that.”

Kaveh is a Level 1 academy student who says the placement has been a lot of fun and that he has learnt a lot.

It’s helped build my confidence and I’ve got faster. Everyone’s really friendly and helps you improve. There’s a lot of trust. Next year I’ll be more confident and try not to doubt myself as much. I already know it; I just need to believe in myself a bit more.”

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