How long have you been in this role?
Since 1st august 2016.
How did you get into cooking?
I always cooked at home, then retrained after university, working in local gastro pubs.Then applied at Brockencote Hall and managed to get started as commis chef.
Do you think there was enough advice available when you were starting out?
It was fairly simple to join the part-time college course. My first GM was trained as a chef inthe army and showed me how to organise myself and get done what needed to be done.I joined Brockencote with Didier Philipot as head chef, and tried to take in and learn as much as I could.
How long did it take you to get to the level you’re at now?
13 years I think. A few years in gastro pubswhile I was at college, and 10 years in fine dining.I am still always learning new techniques;you have to improve.
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 most students’ ambitions are to workat the highest level they can. I like teaching all my chefs what I can. It’s nice to see them progress and become happier as they become more competent.
What made you go into this sector?
I have always wanted to work with the best produce and deliver great food. I don’t thinkI would like to work in a restaurant, as being in a hotel kitchen there is always something different going on, whether it be an exclusive wedding day, restaurant service, a menu designed for a special occasion in a private dining room. It’s nice working with customers with a passion for food and drink and talking about their likes and dislikes.
What do you like most about your job?
Essentially creating great food that I wouldlike to eat if I went out. Hopefully our customersenjoy eating the dishes as much as we do preparing them in the kitchen.
What does your job entail?
You name it, I have probably done it. Plumber, electrician, councillor, accountant, oh and a chef!There is never a dull day in a kitchen.
What would your advice be for someone looking to follow in your footsteps?Do you have any top tips?
Have a good memory and taste everything.
What are you looking out for on a CV or in an interview if someone was applying to work with you?
Passion. If they have extra experience outside oftheir work history. Going on stages [internships]to the top restaurants shows they are keen to learn and love what they do.
If you could go back and do anything differently would you?
I have always said I would never regret anything, there is a reason for everything that happens, but when I was younger looking back I might have liked to do a stage or two more.
Describe your cooking/ethos in 4 words.
Seasonal, fresh, tasty, local.
What is your favourite dish to cook at home?
Not really a dish, but a family bbq is great fun.Cooking should always be fun!
What dish would you cook to impress?
A Wellington always goes down well with family/friends/customers alike. I do like a venison Wellington with ajuniper jus.
Favourite ingredient to work with?
Over the last few years I have enjoyed working with whole animals. It’s challenging to research and come up with methods to utilise all the individual muscles and offal.
Favourite local ingredient?
Has to be the closest to us. Harvington asparagus. 200m up the road, delivered to us an hour after we ring up in the morning, on the menu for lunch. Amazing flavour and texture when it’s that fresh. The gardens at Brockencote are coming along nicely too.
Top 5 tips for someone cooking at home.
- Follow the recipe.
- Be organised – weigh it all out first.
- Taste everything before putting it on the plate.
- Know your oven – practice makes perfect. Mum always asks how I do my Yorkshires, but my cooking temp and time is different at home than at work and I am sure different again in my mum’s oven.
- Have fun – cook what you like!
Chaddesley Corbett, Worcestershire