Ashley’s Cooking Journey

June 15, 2015

ASHLEY resided in our Peaks Lane Housing Project for nine months during 2013-14 and since leaving us last summer has rebuilt his promising career as a chef at a vaunted five-star hotel and restaurant in North Yorkshire.

Arriving at YMCA Humber following the death of his mother and a strained relationship with his father, Ashley worked with our support team to control his alcohol consumption and work on his anger management.

That support and his own hard work paid off when he secured a job at Rudding Park, a vaunted hotel, restaurant, spa and golf course on the outskirts of North Yorkshire.

He said: “I was heading down the wrong path in life but staff at YMCA were so supportive of me.

“They showed me where to go for help in getting back on track and gave me opportunities to build my confidence and show what I was capable of.”

His progress enabled him to rebuild his relationship with his father and the YMCAkes Project last February gave him the platform to showcase his talents in the kitchen

Youth and Community Services Manager Andy Tappin added: “We knew that Ashley had talent in the kitchen but we weren’t aware how much.

“He essentially led the cooking side of the YMCAkes Project but, more importantly, he showed his peers the necessary skills to get them cooking and contributing to the project – that was a really positive impact.”

Ashley’s passion for cooking came from his mother and he reminisced about the pair baking together and his early days as a chef.

He continued: “I was about seven when I would pick up my mum’s Mary Berry cook books and start baking with her in the kitchen.

“It is something I enjoyed doing all the way through my teenage years.

“I then studied catering at college and secured a job later on at Winteringham Grange as the Sous Pastry Chef.

“But then other things took hold and I didn’t think I would get to that stage again but, with the support of YMCA, I am doing better than ever.”

Ashley is Sous Pastry Chef at Rudding Park and has two items on the dessert menu, carrot cake and his speciality smoked chocolate mousse and blackberry parfait. A team from YMCA Humber went to visit him in January and sample his efforts. Community Youth Worker Jocelyn Dennis enjoyed the meal.

She said: “The food was the most delicious I have tasted in my whole life!

“Ashley’s dessert was magnificent – he shows so much care and attention to detail – it was a pleasure to learn from him the small facets that go into making something to those standards.”

Currently residing in the living quarters at Rudding Park, Ashley has his sights set even higher and is hopeful of securing a placement with two of his culinary heroes.

He said: “I’m really influenced by the Roja brothers from Spain.

“They have such a great reputation that people pay them to go work in their kitchens.

“It is something I would like to try – save up enough money to spend a year working for them because it would be like an education in itself.”