A Chat With Searcys Apprentice Kherunnisa Bibi Mulla20 October 2021
Each year, we are proud to offer an apprentice scheme, nurturing new talent and helping to develop people’s personal skills within the hospitality industry. The recently launched 2022 Searcys apprenticeship scheme offers a structured programme of development journeys within our industry, including front-of-house, hospitality, chefs, managers and support functions – finance, HR, and marketing. We have caught up with Kherunnisa Bibi Mulla, who joined us as an operations apprentice in 2019, about how she found the experience and her dreams of opening a bakery in the future.
Hi Kherunnisa! Tell us about yourself – how did you start at Searcys? What’s your experience?
I started in Searcys in August 2019. Before that, I worked in a bakery just part-time – making a little bit of money on the side. I really enjoyed working there, I started as a porter but the head baker noticed my passion for cooking and since then I have never looked back. I wanted to do an apprenticeship and applied for one with Searcys, so I started working here.
What do you like most about your job?
When I was an apprentice, once a month a tutor would come to visit. The course included cooking recipes in different groups and practicing cooking techniques. The tutor would observe how I worked in the kitchen and help me improve. I also used to do one day of training, focusing on different categories – baking, patisserie, cooking, poultry and so in. It was a great experience and it was nice to have one full day learning a month.
In the kitchen, I would work with a sous-chef – shadowing and learning something new every day. I would write up recipes on the bus coming back home. On the very first day, I remember I spend the whole day preparing soups. I had to take pictures to follow recipes – soon I had over 10 recipes in my folder. I am now taking pictures of all my dishes.
What is your favourite dish?
Oh, I have so many! Every week we would have a national cuisine – for example, I have been learning Indian cuisine this week. I am Indian myself, and love cooking these recipes. I have started working with different spices, developing recipes based on my heritage. I also learned how to manage the ordering and costings.
One time, our sous-chef was sick and I had a full day preparing chicken masala and rice and a type of raita. It was so busy that day, my food was really popular and that made me so happy.
What is your career plan?
I would like to experience everything in the world of cooking! I always find myself going towards bread making and patisserie. During the lockdown I made so much bread at home. At the moment, I want to explore all sorts of cuisine and cooking techniques, and then one day I may decide to specialise. My dream is to open a little bakery in my neighbourhood, and to include Indian goods too. I don’t see many Indian bakeries around, so I’d like to recreate my childhood dreams. I would love to create something that everyone can afford. I would like it to be a space for everyone, where everyone is welcome. Working for a bigger company is definitely my near future.
What tips you would give a person who starts an apprenticeship?
I would say – be ready to make mistakes. I wasn’t ready, I thought I would be perfect. I have cuts, burns on my hands. When you do make mistakes, learn from them. Don’t beat yourself up, it happens to the best of us.
Learn how to organise your time. This was my first full-time job. I felt I was losing track of time, was always on my feet. I think you need to learn to plan, pace yourself and take time for your mental health.
Learn to have a clean bench in the kitchen. You then know how to organise and prioritise.
Be a good team player, be prepared to help when it is really busy. Always have a professional and positive attitude and be very kind. I learnt so much from every chef in my kitchen. Be ready to learn and be open to this knowledge.
And just have fun. I stepped into an apprenticeship thinking I have to be serious, I used to really beat myself up, and I forgot to have fun. Everyone is there to have a good time. Everyone takes such good care of me, I am ever so grateful for this.
Would you recommend apprenticeships?
It is a very good path for a young person who wishes to start in the kitchen. In an apprenticeship, you are working and learning at the same time. I think it’s important to remember to manage your time to learn.
Ahead of Searcys 175th Anniversary in 2022, what’s your birthday wish for Searcys colleagues and teams?
I would like to wish positivity to all. A lot of people have learned different lessons through the challenging 20 or so months of the pandemic. I want to say to all – stay safe, stay in a good space, take good care of yourself. And remember, it’s important to put your health first.