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Monday, July 15, 2024

Career-Change Student Celebrates Chef Scholarship Win

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A cookery student at UHI Inverness who gave up his job to follow his long-held dream of being a chef has won a scholarship that offers a rare opportunity for work experience and training at a high-end restaurant.

James Durning (27), who studies Professional Cookery Level 4, attended an awards event in Glasgow recently to receive his scholarship from the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland (HIT).

More than 300 scholarships were presented at the HIT Talent Conference to people studying and working in the industry.

He won the Chef Crafts Skills Scholarship after he lodged a submission explaining his current role, career ambitions and who inspires him.

His success proves the father-of-four made the right decision when, after working in the care sector for 10 years, he suddenly quit his job to his pursue his culinary ambitions.

That led to him studying at UHI Inverness three days a week and working as a commis chef at the Loch & Larder at Eastgate Shopping Centre in Inverness for three days a week.

“Education is the most important thing you can do for yourself, and you should take any chance you can to continue on that journey,” said James, who is waiting to hear which restaurant he will be placed in as part of his scholarship.

“I was working as a carer and one day I said to my son that he should always follow his dreams, and he replied that he wasn’t going to because I didn’t.

“I quit my job the very next day and I went to the food court in Eastgate and asked them to give me a job and they did, even though my only cooking experience was baking a couple of cakes in a care home.

“By getting a job, studying here and winning the scholarship I’ve been able to show my son that what can happen if you follow your dreams.”

James enjoys the support of his wife Emma and his children Billy, Charlie, Luna and Minnie.

Professional Cookery lecturer Saurav Kumar said:

“James is in his first year of studying with us and has already proved himself to be a talented and diligent student with lots of potential.

“I’m delighted that he secured this prestigious scholarship and I’m sure he will make the most of this experience and apply his new skills to further his education and career.”

HIT Scotland is an industry charity unique to Scotland that provides fully funded inspirational learning experiences for those studying or working in Scottish hospitality.  

A HIT Scotland scholarship is a learning experience, designed to provide new skills or knowledge, to experience best practice, or refresh the way of thinking, depending on personal development objectives.

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