School of Science, Engineering & Design

Student views

Heidi Stevens

Heidi was a chef for 22 years and a professional head pastry chef for the last 12 years. She was lucky enough to work for some big names in London and abroad.

Heidi Stevens

BSc (Hons) Food Science and Engineering

The team of food lecturers are very passionate about their subject.

I was a chef for 22 years and a professional head pastry chef for the last 12 years. I was lucky enough to work for some big names in London and work abroad on contracts in pastry managerial positions in various exotic locations. I had many wonderful experiences and was highly trained, but after so long in the industry I wanted a change in direction and also wanted my seven year old to have a settled life back home in the UK.

I had received interest from a few agencies and companies on LinkedIn offering me development chef positions but as I researched this position I decided that food science knowledge would complement working pastry chef knowledge. I think people are a lot more aware of what they are eating now and I was raised on organic and healthy food in the 1980s when such things weren’t considered trendy, so this course also appealed to me from that perspective. I had always regretted not studying at university and after some research decided to embark on a full time degree in food engineering which would complement my existing skills.

I dropped into Teesside University one day to find out more about the course and had a pleasantly surprising experience. One of the food lecturers took me on an impromptu tour of the campus and told me about the course in depth. I was sure he was a busy man but had still taken time out for a potential student which was impressive. The administrative staff were also very welcoming and I met another of the lecturers who was very open and friendly. Coming from Manchester I was in two minds about whether to study at Teesside or return to Manchester where my sister could help me with childcare. After I was reassured that I would never be at the University too late I decided to enrol at Teesside as the welcoming atmosphere and fantastic, modern architecture won out.

I have enjoyed being around other people with a passion for food and healthy eating. Learning about chemical reactions in the Fundamentals of Chemistry module has been something of an epiphany for me as a professional chef.
The services offered at Teesside University are abundant and diverse. Being able to access the library’s books and journals from home has been extremely helpful since I live an hour’s drive away. The library also offers free maths tutoring which I made use of at the beginning of the year. The staff are always on hand and polite in the University library. I have used the quiet zone on the third floor for studying quite a bit and find that the natural light of the huge glass front of the library is quite healthy mentally when you have been sitting still writing for many hours. Overall the University is very clean, neat and well kept.

As a mature student and lone parent with a young child I wasn’t able to take part in parties or bar-life. I did however attend the University’s African Night with my son, which was spectacular. There are plenty of diverse restaurants and cafes around and off campus within walking distance, from ice cream parlours to Mediterranean cafes. I actually found eating lunch off campus with other food students to be a very socially bonding activity.

During my initial year I haven’t had the chance to become involved in any of the clubs or societies, but I intend to be more involved with the Hydroponics and Food Co-op. The Students’ Union offers a lot of job opportunities to students too.

It is a very warm and welcoming, positive campus, students seem happy and staff are always welcoming from the cafeterias to the lecturers. The team of food lecturers are very passionate about their subject which comes across in lectures and tutorials, this is of course infectious. They are also motivated in keeping students constantly informed on latest food science innovations and opportunities. I joined the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) and had not realised this opportunity was available to me until I was encouraged by one of our lecturers.

I had intended to use this degree to enhance my existing skills and change direction into the development chef field. However, I have found out there are a world of new opportunities for exploration and I will make a final decision as I develop scientific skills over the next two years. Food science is a very large professional sector at the moment and opportunities are diverse and growing fast. Teesside University seems to have some solid connections with the industry and very focused in steering students along the right career path and enhancing abilities and experiences. I think that especially for the younger students this is a valuable thing that the University offers.

As a mature student who has been out of further education for more than 20 years the idea of studying a degree was a little daunting. However, the encouragement and help given by staff has changed my perspective completely and I feel very confident. Staff are very helpful and always ready to answer questions and emails, even when they are busy or you’ve asked what feels like a silly question. I would definitely recommend Teesside.