Eating well as a child gave me a love of good food.
Then an unhealthy dose of cookery programmes in my early teens sealed it! I did a modern apprenticeship through Paul Heathcote’s School of Excellence while working full time. I would suggest this course of action to any young chef. On-the-job training is essential, and the quicker you can get yourself into a work environment the better, as it allows you to mature more quickly.
You only really start learning from a kitchen when the head chef trusts you.
I think it’s essential to stay at the same restaurant for a long time. If you’ve not spent a good period of time dedicated to a job, you’ll never gain that experience.
At The French we focus on tasting menus, with a small-plates option at lunchtime.
You could describe it as ‘modern British’. It’s really just modern, quirky dishes that use top-quality, seasonal produce – served in a fun and relaxed way.
The food style is very much my own.
I took over from the acclaimed head chef Simon Rogan, and spent the best part of four years trying to work to his ethos. But I have my own tastes and ideas, so it’s exciting to explore them and see what results.
My working day usually starts at 8.30am clearing emails, and I’m in the kitchen until 10.30 or 11pm.
I have a great team that carries out the daily tasks in the restaurant, so I’m mainly looking towards the next day or week and guiding things in the right direction. We’re closed on Sundays and Mondays, so we can guarantee days off, which is nice.
We have a team of 10 in the kitchen and 10 front-of-house staff. A big team is key to keeping our standards as high as they should be.
The trickiest part of my job is getting ideas across to the team and trying to get people to share that vision.
That dictates my management style, and I try to be as interactive and positive as possible.
Creating the winning dessert on [TV show] Great British Menu last year has been amazing for building my profile as a chef.
It gets your name out there as being one to watch – but it doesn’t give you any free rides. It’s still all about putting in the effort to push a restaurant to the next level.
The winning dessert – Golden Empire – continues to be popular at The French.
It’s a fresh take on apple crumble – stewed apple with hazelnut crumble, custard and gold sugar apples. There are a few other dishes making a name for themselves too, such as fried broccoli with cheese and truffle.
When I leave work, I still love food.
Other than seeing my family, and making time to watch the new series of Game of Thrones every year, I don’t have much else going on!
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