ICA Second-year student, Danielle Melville, shares her story.

Of course, being rated one of the best chef schools in the world by an acclaimed international body is important.

Of course, winning numerous awards for culinary education excellence and contributions towards this field is important.

Of course, producing award-winning chefs and culinary professionals who are setting benchmarks in the industry is important.

But what is even more significant in choosing the best culinary school for your future studies, is what current and recently graduated students are advocating about their culinary journey.  What are ICA students – those individuals that are actively undergoing the actual education process at the ICA – saying about their experience?

Danielle Mellville, a current 2nd-year student enrolled on the ICA 3-year diploma course, ended her first placement period with a much clearer sense of her own inner strengths and growth process throughout her studies at the ICA as well as on a practical level within the culinary industry. Through dedicated mentorship and lecturer support in their first year on campus, ICA students – often without realising it – are guided on a path of immense growth on more than just an educational level, preparing them to persist in their pursuit of following their culinary dream.

“I remember discussing my expectations and feelings with my parents the day before I started in the industry. I was worried and scared, but above all, excited! My mom listened patiently and responded with what would be profound advice: “Remember, not all days will be good days, there will be difficult days too” 

I have never been one to believe in “bad days” as my glass is always half full! Something about her experienced words made me realize that it was now time to plan for the unknown. I decided to compile a list of everything I stand for as a person. I also made an agreement with myself to read the list every morning.

The first day in the industry was the opposite of what I had expected. It was scary, busy and tiring. I reminded myself daily why I embarked on this journey in the first place. I kept checking my list.  

Then Christmas week came. This is the busiest as well as the most difficult time in the kitchen. In my case, it meant being away from family for Christmas for the very first time. I was tired and felt discouraged. At the end of this week, I realized that I had forgotten about my list. I was willing to give up sleep and to work hard, but I was not willing to lose my passion and this is exactly what had started to happen. All it took was one week of forgetting what I stand for. ‘If you don’t stand for anything, you’ll fall for everything’ – probably the most personified quote I came to know.  

Being in the industry taught me many things for which I am extremely grateful. One is that if you lose your passion, the food loses its flavour. Scientifically, we have 5 senses, right? Well, I’m convinced that we have a 6th sense – love. I am most thankful to the ICA for sparking my culinary passion and to my mother for sparking my love. Without these two incredible qualities, I would not have known what I stood for before going into the industry. It is so important to stay true to who you are and to never forget why you started in the first place. Word of advice: ‘Become more and more like yourself and tend to food with your 6th (most important) sense – love.”

ICA 2nd Year Student: 3 Year Diploma in Advanced Culinary Arts, Advanced Pâtisserie & Specialist Culinary Field

– Dani Melville: ICA 2nd year student – 3 Year Diploma in Advanced Culinary Arts, Advanced Pâtisserie & Specialist Culinary Field