Head Chef, Mark Potts, The Mount Somerset Hotel & Spa

How long have you been in this role?

I have been at The Mount Somerset for just over two years; I have really enjoyed my time here and get great pleasure from seeing us always moving forwards.

How did you get into cooking?

After I left school, I started like many chefs just washing up and the atmosphere in kitchens was something that I enjoyed straight away.

Do you think there was enough advice available when you were starting out?

In a word, no. Although college gave me an introduction to cooking and taught me skills and techniques, I don’t think there was enough information on the skills and application you need to work in higher level kitchens, and I think that is why many students drop out of the industry.

How long did it take you to get to the level you’re at now?

All my career! I think there are always ways to improve on your food and the way you handle things in the kitchen. I think that’s why I still enjoy it as there is always something to get better at, or to strive toward.

Do you think enough people are encouraged to teach at schools or go into catering, and do you think there’s too much emphasis to go into a restaurant?

I think a lot of chefs are attracted to restaurants as you can really show the quality of chef you are. However I do think the industry is really changing and more chefs are branching out into contract catering or colleges.

What made you go into this sector?

I always liked to work in small hotels and restaurants as you can really concentrate on
a high level of food offering.

What do you like most about your job?

I still really enjoy using all of the seasonal produce. When its asparagus season, or wild garlic is available, it always inspires me to look at different dishes or ways to use the produce. Its critical to have a group of suppliers that share our passion for food and bring us fantastic produce.

What does your job entail?

I’m responsible for all the food offering at The Mount. I have team of eight and we are looking to build on our three-rosette accolade across the spectrum of what we offer here.

What would your advice be for someone looking to follow in your footsteps? Do you have any top tips?

I would always say just be prepared to work hard. Don’t worry about your position in a kitchen or salaries when you are starting, just take in as much information and knowledge as possible, and then as you get older and more experienced your own food style will develop from that.

What are you looking out for on a CV or in an interview if someone was applying to work with you?

I always look for a dedication to the trade and a willingness to learn. Within any job role you face challenges and difficulties, and to stay and overcome them and progress is always a good sign on a CV for a chef at any level.

If you could go back and do anything differently would you?

I was offered a job at royal hospital road with Gordon Ramsey in my mid twenties and it’s a big regret that I didn’t take it due to lack of confidence. Looking back now I think I would have been able to achieve it, and would have learnt so much. Describe your cooking/ethos in 4 words. Simple – Seasonal – Flavour – Honest.

What is your favourite dish to cook at home?

Haha. I hope my wife isn’t reading this as I don’t cook very much at home. But I really do like to do a roast dinner if I’m off on a Sunday; and then relax and watch football for the afternoon.

What dish would you cook to impress?

Beef Wellington. Favourite ingredient to work with? It would have to be scallops. When they are high quality and super fresh they are a joy to cook with and have such a unique flavour.

Favourite local ingredient?

It would have to be the cultured butter I use from my friend Grant which is churned using traditional methods. We get so many compliments from customers when we serve it with our sourdough.

Words of wisdom for someone cooking at home.

Get someone else to wash up.

The Mount Somerset Hotel & Spa
Taunton, Somerset