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Pearls of Wisdom: John Campbell

By Joe Lutrario , 01-Apr-2010

John Campbell is executive chef at Coworth Park, set to open in September. He left the Vineyard at Stockcross last year, where he held two Michelin stars

Coworth Park is a huge operation, there are five separate outlets. It’s an existing property that is being refurbed back to what it once was. It’s a very exciting project.

 

Communication is going to be key if we’re to serve these numbers – we have very advanced EPoS and ordering systems going in at the moment.

 

The industry has changed a huge amount over the past few decades. A chef needs to be a human resource manager, marketer, a manager, an accountant and a culinary artist. Catering education needs to reflect that more.

 

We’ve heavily into corporate social responsibility here. Everything we do has got to be linked into our polices, be it people, the planet or long-term local impact.

 

The opening has been pushed back so we don’t have to rush and so that work won’t be going on while the hotel is open to the public. It’s going to be a pretty special venue.

 

Nobody knows who the real chefs are behind well-known restaurants. I want to give my team the recognition they deserve. I have 118 staff in food and beverage and they will make this work for me. Peter Eton and Olly Rouse will get their time in the limelight.

 

The Vineyard was good. My profile went up a lot. I was there seven years and we won lots of awards and accolades. There were challenges but there always are at that level.

 

For me service is perhaps more important than the product on the plate. I’ll be monitoring what’s going on in the dining room as closely as the kitchen.

 

It won’t be scientific cooking. That’s never been my approach. It’s not just about the science of food and cooking. It’s the beauty of and the study of eating.

 

I want to provide the best corporate offer in the country. It’s about delivering something memorable and unique guests won’t find in the corporate environment.

 

I’m co-author of two education books, Practical Cookery and Advanced Practical Cookery. Pretty much everyone that studies hospitality will learn from those books so it’s a great way to get new things into the industry.

 

As I get older I’m starting to realise that you need to balance work with normal life. I am out for awards and accolades, but the main thing is to enjoy it and respect food.

 

Customers are not here to worship at the altar of gastronomy. They’re here to get good value and a memorable experience.

 

The media makes a lot of mistakes when discussing and reporting molecular gastronomy. It’s not a food style. The first instance of molecular gastronomy was when man made a fire and cooked food on it. It’s always been woven into everything we do.

 

I look at the molecular side of ingredients, and use that knowledge to help maintain freshness and flavour – the best that the ingredient can deliver.

 

Campbell will be cooking at The Pass at South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding, West Sussex on 9 April as part of the hotel's Seven Stars event. Six other chefs will take over the venue's open kitchen, including Michael Wignall, Martin Blunos and Matt Gillan, the Pass's resident head chef.

 

For more information visit www.southlodgehotel.co.uk

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