Food has been a part of my heritage for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the mid 1980’s, I was the only vegetarian at primary school and with my Uncle and Grandad being butchers, food was never that far from conversation.
Cooking and going out to eat was always a part of family life with many members of my family having a lasting influence on my culinary soul. So when confronted with a gap year or two the opportunity to formally train came my way. Spending a year at Leith's School of Food and Wine opened my eyes to a whole other world and by the end of my diploma course I was living in London, working in Michelin Star restaurants while my school friends were largely embarking on University.
The next 24 years I have spent working my way through a broad spectrum of the catering and food industry. During my time in London I gained experience with food photographers and office catering as well as working in a number of notable Michelin starred restaurants. Returning home to Oxford brought a new opportunity to work for well known local chef as his Brasserie opened up in the heart of the city.
Family life and travel began steering me towards the need for social hours and the opportunity to teach presented its self. Working as a teacher back at my old school, Leith's, was a privilege. A time I am very grateful for and I have many fond memories of. This lead me to spend some time as a chef trainer a little closer to home on the Hotel & Restaurant Management Degree course at Oxford Brookes University.
While I enjoyed training chefs and teaching very much, I began to hear the call of kitchen life and returned to being a chef myself. This time for Oxford University Press, an unlikely employer for a chef but an experience that never stopped giving. Never have I worked somewhere with so much breadth and so much freedom as head chef, so not surprisingly I stayed there for many years. This gave me the opportunity to gain a wide variety of experience organising and executing events in venues and for guests not found in the public arena. From lazy working lunches, exquisite A La Carte dining and afternoon teas all the way through to garden party canapé functions, VIP corporate entertainment and University Delegation Dinners. With the added bonus of having a wine cellar at my disposal this was an incredible time of my career.
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to have friends and colleagues from all walks of life. Opportunities to again broaden my skills and experience in the world of private catering often present them selves, offering unique and challenging venues drawing on all my skills and flexibility. From providing in flight catering for private aviation, cooking on yachts in the Mediterranean and launch parties all the way to BBQ events, wedding receptions and birthday celebrations that have taken many different forms over the years. I have been fortunate enough to be trusted and asked to get involved.
My job as a chef has always been incredibly simple, to produce the tastiest plate of food I can. To me this was always about flavour and the best flavour always came from the best ingredients. High quality ingredients were and are always those that are ripest and freshest, produced in harmony with their habitat to impart the best possible flavour. Local, seasonal & sustainable. The food industry is incredibly turbulent with far reaching issues and influences, both great and small. I have always found that holding true to this simple ethos of flavour has effortlessly navigated me through these complexities respectfully, sustainably and in harmony.
My aim now is to help others in their pursuit of flavour by passing on what I have been privileged enough to experience and learn. To be free from the shackles of recipes. To create guided by flavour within the scope of environment to the best of craft skill and inspired by heritage.
Embrace heritage, respect environment and develop craft.