50 Best BBVA Scholarship 2020: how to impress your boss, by the best chef in Africa, Luke Dale-Roberts

Mark Sansom - 13/11/2019

As part of the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship 2020, an aspiring cook will win the chance to land stages at The World’s Best Restaurant, Mirazur, with chef Mauro Colagreco; The Best Restaurant in Africa, The Test Kitchen, with Luke Dale-Roberts; and at Leo in Bogota with Leonor Espinosa. Interested? Get your application in today

British-born Luke Dale-Roberts opened the Test Kitchen in Cape Town in 2010. Now regarded as the best chef in the African continent, he is offering a six-week internship to the lucky winner of the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship 2020. Here are his top five tips to be the best stagiaire you can be

Find inspiration
When I did my work experience at Gravetye Manor in West Sussex, UK, it really opened my eyes to how beautiful food could be. I used to stay behind after work just to taste the sauces and reductions and I still remember walking around the kitchen garden before service picking the produce for that day. There’s nothing better than feeling connected with what you’re cooking – every aspiring chef should find something that inspires them and run with it.

Keep it real
The most important thing to remember when you walk through the door of any kitchen, at whatever level, is to stay humble. When you are humble and ready to listen, your senses will be too. Open your eyes, your ears, your nose, your mouth and do everything that you can to take in as much in as humanly possible.

Look sharp
If there’s one thing I look for in a young chef when he or she comes to work with me is the ability to move quickly. If someone walks slowly, they’re invariably going to be slow in the kitchen. You can tell a lot about someone from the way they walk, in my opinion. If you can’t walk at a reasonable speed, you’re not going to be much good in my kitchen.

Go to market
The best way to learn about the food culture of a place anywhere in the world is to go to a market and see how a place eats. When I was young, I would head into London’s Covent Garden Market to speak to the sellers about what they were growing and what they were using. It really helped me learn about seasonality and what flavours work together.

Salad Nicoise by Luke Dale-Roberts at The Test Kitchen

Be on point
It’s good to make sure your knife skills are as tight as they can possibly be, but the most important for me are the things that anyone can do. You need to be punctual, committed and ready to listen to instruction. Tick all of those boxes and you’re well on your way. We’ve currently got a scheme running where we take kids from the ‘hood – these guys have been absolutely fantastic and so keen to learn. We start them in the scullery washing dishes and they have the opportunity to work their way up. One of them is running the sauce section now and one is a senior chef de partie – we call them the Golden Boys.

Think you have what it takes to work in Dale-Roberts' kitchen? Apply now to the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship 2020.

Applications to the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship 2020 are open until Friday, 20th December, to chefs with fewer than three years’ experience in a professional kitchen.

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