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Tasting great success

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Alexis Trott didn't think she'd finish school when she suddenly lost her boyfriend.

Alanzo Parsons's death, at age 18, threw her completely off-course. She couldn't sit her Bermuda College exams.

Now she is celebrating two graduations within a month.

The 20-year-old received her associate's degree in culinary arts from the College last week; a diploma from Tante Marie Culinary Academy comes in June.

The victories are shared by her mother, Andrea McKey, who dipped into her pension to pay the tuition and expenses for the chef classes in England.

“I feel a great amount of pressure because she did that, so I work as hard as I can and push myself,” Ms Trott said.

“It's good, because I can push myself to be better.”

Things were going well when she started at the College in 2014. She made the president's list in her first semester and her talents were soon noticed by her teacher Teneika Eve.

“The first day of class, she whispered in my ear: I've got my eye on you. That's when I knew,” Ms Trott told Lifestyle.

But she was thrown off course that May when her boyfriend died playing football.

“It was so unexpected,” the 20-year-old said.

“I was going to take a break for a while.”

She suffered another setback when her grandfather, veteran journalist Jim McKey, passed a month later.

A summer internship with Island Restaurant Group was a welcome distraction.

The aspiring chef, thrives on pressure and prides herself on keeping a cool head in the kitchen.

“They all were different experiences,” said Ms Trott, who spent a month in each of IRG's three restaurants.

“Victoria Grill was my first. I mostly worked in catering, making big batches of things for parties.

“Pickled Onion was a much faster pace and then Barracuda grill was more fine dining, upscale.”

The experience solidified her desire to become a chef.

“With new restaurants and hotels opening in Bermuda, I feel that this is an exciting time for culinary arts with the possibility of new and innovative chefs to learn from,” she said.

Throughout it all, her mother was behind her.

“Alexis was asked, at the age of 11, what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her answer was a chef,” Ms McKey remembered.

“Most 11-year-olds don't really know what they want to be, or change their minds as they get older.”

To that end, she was determined to see her youngest daughter through school.

“Alexis was truly on her way to becoming a great chef and worked hard, both at the College and at her part-time job at Harrington Hundreds,” she said. “This tragedy was extremely hard on her and she still struggles with [Alanzo's] death to this day.”

It was hard on her too. “I had to help one child to bury her boyfriend and help another with her wedding, two days later.

“And then I was looking after my dad when he was in hospital.

“It was a stressful time. As a single parent, I struggled with her tuition as well as the additional cost for her monthly expenses, rent and airfare.

“I've been working for government for 27 years.

“There was no other way, so I ended up taking money from my pension.

“It was a one-time lump sum that paid her tuition.

“I have had to be on a tight budget but it will be worth it in the long run.

“Women are very resourceful and we're survivors.”

Ms Trott was awarded the Culinary Consistency Award during her studies at the College. She completed her courses in December and began the Intensive Cordon Bleu Diploma course at Tante Marie Culinary Academy in the UK the following month.

Until she started at Bermuda College her cooking journey was entirely self-taught.

“When Alexis demonstrated her chicken Parmigiana, Ms Eve said: 'Some people have the natural gift and she has the natural gift',” Ms McKey beamed.

Her daughter is thrilled to have had her mother's encouragement.

“I am [happy] because of where I am today. I would have been working in a job that has nothing to do with what I want to do.

“I cook to make people happy. To see their reactions as they take a bite of one of my dishes is what it is all about for me.

“Eating, I feel, should be an experience to be enjoyed and savoured.”

Cooking up a storm: aspiring chef Alexis Trott (Photograph supplied)
Alexis Trott demonstrates at Live, Love, Eat with Bermuda College lecturer Teneika Eve (Photograph supplied)

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Published May 22, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 22, 2017 at 1:59 am)

Tasting great success

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