Igniting Imagination: Tracy Crawley
At the Royal Garden Hotel, we believe that igniting imagination and building everlasting memories are at the core of the perfect family break. Therefore, as part of our family-friendly promise, we will be interviewing passionate professionals to inspire your little ones.
Next up we have Tracy Crawley, a pastry sous chef at a luxury 5-star hotel. Read all about the work she does and why she believes museums are important for a child's imagination.
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND YOUR ROLE.
My name is Tracy Crawley and I currently work at a luxury 5-star hotel as a pastry sous chef.
CAN YOU EXPAND ON YOUR ROLE? WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS?
I work in a team of 8 which is often made up of many different levels: from experienced people who have been a chef for more than 20 years, to apprentices who have just finished their GCSEs. On a daily basis, we bake fresh bread and fresh scones for room service, lunch and afternoon tea. We are also responsible for all of the desserts, which of course, is my favourite.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DO WHAT YOU DO? HOW AND WHEN DID YOU LEARN THIS KIND OF JOB EXISTED?
My first college was an all-round hotel and hospitality college called Lakefield, and through this college, I was able to attend Hotelympia. Hotelympia is a large catering and hospitality exhibition which changed my life. We attended as helpers to chefs doing talks and demos for experience, but the part I will never forget, was the sugarcraft and decorated cakes competition. I was blown away. I had never seen anything so beautiful! I would stare at them for hours and take photos to reflect on them. At that moment, I decided that this was my future. Not only did I want to make cakes, but I wanted to make cakes worthy of this competition.
All cakes made by Tracy Crawley.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE MOMENT IN THE JOB SO FAR?
Some of my favourite moments have to be when we reach out to the community through our sponsored charities and local schools. I have done demonstrations, talks and classes, for cooking, baking and sugarcraft, to people of all ages. For example, I have gone into schools with children as young as 6-7 and as old as 12-14. I have attended careers days with special needs children and adults and the elderly, to help them have a sense of purpose and just somewhere to go.
WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO DO IN ORDER TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
Being a chef is a very practical job. Qualifications are very valuable yes, however so is experience. I have always worked in hospitality for some reason, one of my first jobs at 14 was working in a café, cooking, serving and cleaning. But all experience is good experience, as it will help you filter your path to what you do or don’t want to do. In school, I studied food technology as I loved to cook but I didn’t really see it as a career. It was just one moment where I saw beautifully made cakes that made me what I am today.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE/WHAT JOB DID YOU WANT TO HAVE GROWING UP AS A CHILD?
When I was in school, I didn’t really plan a career, just a next step. My school sent me to my college for work experience and I really liked it so I thought… “Sure this will be my next step”. I knew I didn’t want an office job and I wanted to get out of the classroom style education and here I am now! I didn’t think about it, I just went with the flow.
HAVE YOU GOT ANY ADVICE FOR CHILDREN WANTING TO WORK IN CREATIVE INDUSTRIES?
My advice would be that your only limit is your own imagination. Even to this day, people ask me "How did you come up with that idea?". My answer is to always think outside the box, that is how you will stand out. Quite often, a skill learnt well will take years to perfect and you will continue to improve, expand and learn as with every goal met, a new one should be set. Spend time at home practising a skill so that your hobby becomes your passion. If each day you go to work and focus on your passions, you will always succeed as it won’t feel like a job. A person driven by passion will always excel over someone who is driven by money and power.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST VISIT TO A MUSEUM? WHEN AND WHERE WAS IT?
I remember visiting the science museum when I was young. I recall the great whale structure and being completely blown away that someone actually created that. I remember the section about the human body and how the taste buds on the tongue work… Looking back, cooking is just a chemical reaction! The art galleries were also interesting to me, especially the sculptures but also the paintings. Being able to see a variety of interpretations and techniques can give you unexpected inspirations. For example, a lot of my work with cakes entails painted details and sculpting, all of which I find came from visiting museums and learning through experiences.
HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK MUSEUMS ARE FOR A CHILD’S IMAGINATION?
I find museums very important for children. The little ones are lucky enough to believe that anything is possible and if that feeling and vision can be maintained into adulthood, we will have a wonderful new generation. In such a fast-paced world, I find it so valuable to take the time to reflect, especially in a museum. Being able to wonder what was going through an artists mind as they painted an image or created a sculpture, is just fascinating. Museums are a chance to step out of the classroom and into a world of possibilities.
ANY OTHER ADVICE OR WORDS OF WISDOM YOU WOULD LIKE TO IMPART?
Don’t wait to be taught things. If you want to learn and try new things, then just give them a go. Don’t be afraid to fail as all experiences are worthwhile and are valuable lessons learnt!