Case study

Sharing Derby’s culinary skills with the world

Adam Hopkins wanted to hone his love of cooking with a degree in Professional Culinary Arts. And, with help from the University, he was able to overcome personal challenges and go from Stockport to seeing more of the world.

Feeding the world

Adam had the perfect inspiration for choosing his course. He explains: “The reason why I went to university is because my nanna taught me how to cook. She said everyone in the world needs feeding.”

He had some early catering training, and already had past experiences of volunteering in the kitchen on the world’s biggest hospital ship, the Africa Mercy. But, to progress his career, he wanted to learn more about the culinary industry.

During his degree course, Adam was sponsored by the University to go on a culinary placement in America at the Old Edwards Club in Highlands, North Carolina. He says: “The placement was for six months. I learned so many culinary skills, I learned about the culture and also had fun and travelled along the way. This was an amazing opportunity to cook for the guests and also learn from other interns from around the world.”

Navigating global travel restrictions, Adam recently managed to get back to Africa for a second voluntary stint on the Africa Mercy hospital ship where he learned more and operated in a difficult environment.

“I was the senior chef and head chef of the ship for some time," he explains. "I learned my skills from the University of Derby and showed the patients and staff from the first time I went on the ship how I’d improved. I wanted to give back to those in Africa and the staff on the ship as I know how life can impact people, as having hardships in life, I can motivate myself to use my skills and knowledge to help those who need it.”

Professional Culinary Management student, Adam Hopkins
Professional Culinary Management student, Adam Hopkins in front of Africa Mercy Ship

Training ground

Adam had opportunities to work on commercial events hosted in the Devonshire Dome in Buxton, and with the Union of Students. He says: “I was the Buxton Chair at the University. I loved every moment. I would work on all the big events the University had to offer. We would also have paid jobs and learn about the industry as a chef, but also do hospitality at the same time.”

“The University offered me lots of experiences, including work and trips. My time at university was the best. I was able to travel, I felt a sense of home, friendship, and I also felt very valued at the University.”

Adam acknowledges he has had to overcome challenges along the way - including a spine condition and dyslexia - and he has appreciated our support. He says: “The University helped me become a chef and also encouraged a work life balance with studying to be able to get me where I am today.”

After graduating, Adam won’t be in the UK for long. Following his first placement in America, he was offered another one, this time in Florida. “I’m set to hopefully go in the future after a long wait due to Covid! This is for a year programme at Lowes Universal Resort.”