Hello my name is Samantha Rain, I am 26, I studied Hospitality and Catering at South Essex College and this is my story.
When I was at school I did my work experience at Unilever. They let me put my own desert on for the day and everyone said that they really liked it and I knew that I wanted to be a pastry chef from there. I looked at all the nearby Colleges and the courses they were doing and decided that South Essex College was the best one for me.
It was a great experience; I learnt a lot of things, met a lot of people, learnt new techniques and gained a lot of knowledge about cooking in general. It was only later when I went on to work in restaurants that I decided to specialise in key areas. I still look back and speak to the people that I met and the teachers, I had a really good time.
When I left College I went to work for a restaurant in Hertfordshire, the Auberge du Lac, I was there six months and they gained their first Michelin star, so I went on to stay there for a further three years, always in the pastry kitchen as that was area that I wanted to specialise in. After I left my last restaurant I decided that I wanted to be a chocolatier. I went to do a course with Mark Tilling and when I finished I got a job at a chocolate factory in London. While I was there I decided to enter myself into The UK Junior Chocolate Masters Competition and in 2014 I became the UK Junior Chocolate Master.
In 2016 I competed in a competition with Mark Tilling and Helen Vass and we did the Bake Off Creme de la Crème. The whole Bake Off experience was a massive eye-opener. There were massive highs and massive lows. What I will take from it is everyone we met; all the judges, all the other teams, in fact everyone was so encouraging and we all got on really well which I thought was really nice. There was no egos, no one was out to get each other. It was just quite fun, and hard as it was you have to have an element of fun as well.
I met Mark originally back when I originally wanted to be a chocolatier. He was the first person to teach me my chocolate work, so from there we became really good friends and we have just always kept in contact. When the Bake Off came up he rang me and asked me to be on his team. I was a bit like, “of all the people in the UK you can ring, why have you rung me?” It was really daunting actually but we went on to win the series which was amazing.
At the moment I am a development chef for HB ingredients. I look at all the Sosa products which is a brand our company distributes. I go out and give demonstrations, I work on new recipes, I work with all the new products and at the minute that is massive for me. There is so much potential at HB Ingredients, at the moment I am focussing all my efforts to stay there.
I would say to anyone who was looking for a career in catering that it is hard, and it can be a difficult career, and there will be good days and bad days. But if you persevere and have a passion for it, it really can take you a long way and open up some brilliant doors.