A FORMER top-flight pastry chef who once worked at Manchester's Ivy and Hotel Gotham and alongside celebrity chefs, has taken her life in a completely different direction after she lost her job during the pandemic.

Kundai Maridzo-Chikwenengwe, 44, spent months looking for work after she lost her job in March 2020 at the Honey Restaurant at Hotel Gotham in Manchester, after they could no longer provide her with any more hours.

She had been working there ever since she left the Ivy in November 2019.

The former chef, who had also worked with the likes of TV’s James Martin before the pandemic hit, found herself having to sign on to claim Universal Credit for the first time in her life.

Kundai said: “I loved my job. Being a pastry chef is all I’ve ever known and trained for, but Covid changed all that and within weeks of the start of the pandemic, I was out of work for the first time in my adult life.

“I was keen to find a new job as quickly as possible, but thousands were applying for every vacancy and it was crushing to realise how long my odds of success were.

“It was the hardest time of my life but I am a person of faith and I finally accepted that that door had closed and that there was something new out there for me.”

After months of unemployment and job hunting, Kundai took another of her passions to the next level and decided to go to university.

She began working towards a degree in Sports and Exercise Science at Old Trafford-based UA92 in September 2020 and now hopes to become a personal trainer, a biomechanics expert or a sports coach.

“It feels great to have options and opportunities again,” she said.