Samantha Trotter

2017 Trade Scholar, Pastry Chef



In 2017 I was awarded a BBM Global Industry Scholarship. I am so thankful for the opportunity I was given, and I really enjoyed seeing my industry from a variety of perspectives. I now have a much deeper understanding of the diversity of career opportunities available within my field. I also significantly grew personally due to the challenges and experiences of the trip.



To start off with I sat down and worked out what goals I wanted to achieve through my trip. I hadn’t done any pastry work in a restaurant before and really wanted to gain more experience in that area. I planned to be based in London for the majority of my trip, so I began researching what moving there for six months would entail. I was fortunate to find a family from the church I planned to attend who were willing to rent a room to me for the duration of my trip. With that sorted I went on to researching restaurants with high ratings, popularity and standards, especially in the dessert and pastry sections. Using that list I sent emails applying for work experience and/or job trials. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who responded. I organised most of the trials and placements before leaving, only needing to finalise the last few work experience dates as the businesses weren’t that far ahead in their rostering. I also had plans to travel to Russia, Belgium and Milan for various industry related learning opportunities.

Arriving in London:

I set off for the London on the Thursday 15th August 2019 stopping over in Taipai. I touched down the evening of the 16th. The family I was going to be staying with generously picked me up from the airport and took me home. Their 3 young kids had made a sign with my name on it, which was such a lovely welcome. They took me to their house in southeast London and I settled into what would be my home for the coming months.

The next day I had a job trial at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch High Street. I enjoyed the variety of outlets they had. A little café for the guests, a restaurant open to the public and function rooms for meetings and wedding upstairs. It was interesting to see how they balanced preparing the desserts and pastries for all the different demands from the one spot. Especially as it was a small team and prep area for the pastry.

Sunday the London Dessert Festival was taking place in East London so travelled there for that. Taking lots of photos and exploring all it had to offer. It was an opportunity for dessert related businesses to put on a stall to advertise who and what they do and sell their products in the hopes of drawing customers to their full-time stores, so saw a few upcoming trends. The next day I headed back to the airport for my flight to Russia.

Kazan, Russia (August):

Although being unable to compete in the International Worldskills competition due to the age restrictions I still very much wanted to attend the event. I hoped it would give me a good understanding of the calibre of Pastry Chefs around the world and to pick up a few ideas and skills as well.

I had a few days before the competition took place, so I used them as an opportunity to see some of the city. It was overwhelming and challenging initially to find my way and try to communicate with people. Less people spoke English that I had anticipated but we managed well enough with gestures and a few words. I tried some local dishes and visited the Kremlin, walked along the river and saw other various places of interest.

The Competition was much larger a complex then I could possibly have imagined. There were at least five different buildings it was being held in. Since Worldskills is for such a variety of trades they needed the room to house them all. Thankfully all the food related events were all held in the same one. It was good to see the Pastry Competition and all the things they created. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see quite as much of what the competitors were doing, due to the nature of the set up. But was able to get up close to see their showpieces when they were out on display which was helpful. I ran to a few people I knew from Australia and I had the chance to check out a lot of what the other trades were doing too. I flew back to London the night after the competition ended. Happy for the experience and challenges I had faced but ready for what lay ahead for me in the UK.

London job trials and work experience (August- October):

I had a few job trials when I returned, Tredwells from Marcus, Medlar and the Clove Club. All of them went well and I learnt something from each opportunity but didn’t feel like any of them were quite right for me. I did however appreciate the experience and it gave me understanding and appreciation for the diversity of restaurant kitchens. As well as their ability to utilise the varying amount and style of space they had to work in.

Next, I had my first week of work exper


ience, which was at Frenchie in Covent Garden. My time there was quite good, the people I was working with were all nice and I was allowed to help with all the dessert plating and prep jobs which was encouraging. I did a few singles and doubles so was able to experience both lunch and dinner service. I also really admire the way in which the head chef ran the kitchen. Family friends from Australia also happened to be in London that week so I had a chance to visit Kew Royal Botanical Gardens and explore some of London with them on my days off. We walked through borough markets which were quite interesting and watched Tower Bridge open. Something I later discovered can be a rare thing to witness if not planned well.

My second week of work experience was at Dinner by Heston.  Because it’s situated inside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel the kitchen was massive. I had to be careful to know where I was going so I didn’t get lost. Of all the work experience I undertook, I found this to be the most informative in terms of pastry knowledge, skills and creativity. The calibre of dessert was higher, and they had a team and kitchen space solely dedicated to pastry. Something rare and difficult to find in the restaurant industry.

Lyle’s was next on the list, a restaurant in the Shoreditch High Street area. The people were friendly, and I liked that the restaurant was somewhat open plan, so I could see all that was going on while we worked. I helped with prep jobs and was able to assist in plateing the desserts which I enjoyed. They had a wedding function on the last night I was there. The way the staff were able to adapt and work together to serve all patrons at once was helpful to witness.

Last was The Ledbury in Notting Hill. They get a lot of people for work experience and therefore they somewhat count them as part of their staff. Meaning that I had my own prep jobs to get done and during service there were particular tasks assigned to me. This was different to the previous restaurants who allowed me to participate but being an extra person, I always had someone working with me. Which was beneficial in having time to discuss recipes and other information about the broader running of the kitchen but meant I didn’t have any real responsibility. Whereas because I had my own section here, I was able to learn the timing and responsibility required to work in a restaurant. The downside was it was almost impossible to find time to discuss anything aside from the necessities of the immediate task I had to perform.

After my work experience and trials, I had concluded that restaurant work wasn’t something I wanted to pursue long term. I really enjoyed the opportunity to see such a variety of establishments and learnt a lot about the different ways to manage a kitchen and new skills and techniques to those I knew. But realised the hours and environment weren’t something I could do long term. So, I looked down the avenue of catering companies.

I went about researching places in the same way I had with the restaurants. And had a couple of trials, settling on a company before I headed off to Europe for 3 weeks.

Europe (October):

My time in Europe was a combination of work-related opportunities and travel. I started in Brussels, Belgium where Puratos was kind enough to provide Hayley Waterhouse, Hayley Kellett and I with accommodation while we attended their two-day Baking Inspiration program. The first day involved a tour of their facility, a presentation of current and upcoming trends and tasting sessions as they demonstrated ways to adapt our products to cater to those trends. We learnt about their cocoa trace movement (trying to support and equip cocoa bean growers), where Puratos is headed with research & development as well as information about health & wellbeing and the affects of that on our industry.

Day two we headed to Saukt-Vith to their facility. We began with a tour of their bread museum, taking us through the origin of bread and its history. Followed by presentation on bread trends, a visit to their sourdough library and finishing with a bread tasting session as they promoted some of the products they had to offer. The sourdough library was fascinating.

It’s a room that holds sourdough starters from all over the world, catalogued with information such as how old they are, where they’re from and what they’re made of.  Both days were informative and valuable. As was the day trip we did to the Callebaut Chocolate factory just out of Brussels, later that week. We were given a tour of the chocolate production line, from the arrival of the cocoa beans right through to the packaging of the final product ready for transportation around the world. Which was great to see first-hand. We also had the chance to watch some of a chocolate class which was being held and to try some of what they made.

After these great learning experiences, the two Hayleys and I did a few days of sightseeing around Belgium together before separating to different locations. I travelled to Amsterdam, Haarlem, then onto Zurich where I saw the Rhine waterfalls and the snowy peaks of Mount Titlis. It was amazing to have the chance to see a diverse range of places. Almost everyone I met in all the hostels I stayed were friendly. Both the staff and guests, and everyone had such interesting back stories and experiences to share. The fluency of so many people’s English pleasantly surprised me, it made communicating easy.

My time in Europe finished in Milan, where Hayley Waterhouse and I met back up for the HostMilano- an International Hospitality Exhibition. My main reason for attending the expo was to watch the FIPGC- Cake Designers World Championships and FIPGC- World Trophy Pastry, Ice-cream & Chocolate. We spent three days there, exploring different stalls that were there, especially those pertaining to pastry. But mainly we sat and watched the competition. The cake designs were like nothing I had seen before. The creativity and attention to detail was amazing.

There was an Australian team competing in the Pastry, Ice-cream & Chocolate competition. We were able to meet and chat to both them and their mentor which was great. Being able to watch all the team’s showpieces come together and see the flavours they used in the desserts created for the judges tasting panel was insightful too.

Catering (November- January):

I started at Social Pantry at the beginning of November. The company got orders to cater for a variety of functions. Weddings, business meetings, school functions, parties, a café front in Lavender Hill, home dinner parties and more. Which meant I had such a variety of products to do.

No two days were ever the same which was great. It kept things interesting and taught me to be versatile. I was responsible for all the desserts. They trusted me to manage my own time and I was often given freedom to produce the desserts according to my own recipes and designs. It was a good learning experience. Allowing me to trust my own judgement more and improve my time management. The people were friendly and welcoming. And I enjoyed picking up skills and ideas on savoury food as I watched those around me work.

Other sightseeing opportunities:

I made various day trips on days off to different towns outside of London such as Cambridge, Bath, Brighton, Eastbourne, Canterbury and Oxford. As well spending a few days seeing the main attractions of London. Buying a 3-day London pass was great.  I was able to visit the Tower of London, Inside Tower Bridge, The Shard, St Pauls Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare’s Globe, Churchills Bunker and Windsor Castle at a more affordable price then seeing them individually. It does mean a busy few days but well worth it in my opinion. Being in London I also took the opportunity to see a few shows; The Nutcracker Ballet, Wicked and The Lion King musical were all spectacular. I was also able to take a short trip to Paris on the Eurostar. Visiting the Musée d’Orsay, Climbing the Eiffel tower and eating at various patisseries throughout the day.


Saying goodbye was hard. I had made lots of good friends at the church I had been going to and loved the family I stayed with. I am so grateful to all who welcomed me and helped me to adjust. It made all the difference and I enjoyed my time so much more than I could’ve imagined.

I also treasure the time Hayley Waterhouse, Hayley Kellett and I had together. To get to know each other better and share a lot of our experiences firsthand was great. After parting ways in Europe to our separate endeavours we met up to spend Christmas together. With all of us spending the holiday apart from our loved ones in was wonderful to be able to spend the time together and share what we had been doing. We have developed a friendship that will hopefully last a long time.

It was amazing to see so much of the world God has created and to meet so many lovely people along the way. Trying different foods and learning about different cultures.

The skills and knowledge I learnt was invaluable. Having the chance to see the diversity of jobs available as a pastry chef has been helpful in thinking about the path I take in the future and equipped me with insights for those wanting advice on how to grow and develop their own career.

Having only worked as a pastry chef in one establishment before travelling to the UK I wasn’t confident on my ability to adapt well to different kitchens. But thanks to the experience I’ve had I feel much more equipped to fit in and adjust to new workplaces. To rely on my training and to jump in and give things a go rather than being apprehensive. I would like to thank all the businesses who allowed me to work in their kitchens and shared their knowledge and skills.

Now as I settle back into life here in Australia I am thinking through my next moves. I’m interested in doing some study in youth ministry or chaplaincy work. Wanting to be better trained in sharing the gospel with others. Whilst also continuing to develop my Pastry skills and work in the industry. Perhaps in the area of cake decorating as I have yet to spend much time in this area. I would also be happy to find a similar job in catering if the opportunity arose. In the longer term I am thinking about the possibilities of starting my own business. But I know that I don’t yet have the needed skills or time to commit to such a venture.

I am so thankful for BBM in allowing me the opportunity to take this trip. It was unforgettable and has grown me significantly. Not only in my career but so much personally. It has taught me resilience, time management, finance management, planning skills and so much more. It has had its challenges, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it.  I am truly blessed to have had this experience and would recommend it to anyone wanting to develop knowledge and skills in their industry. As well to mature personally. I don’t know that I would’ve been able to have grown or learnt so much if had not been for this trip.

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