Henry Herbert, 22, has been head chef at the Coach & Horses gastropub in Clerkenwell, London, for 18 months and has already developed a TV career with appearances on Market Kitchen and is representing the South West in the current series of Great British Menu on BBC Two.
My big achievement:
I went quickly from college to running my own kitchen. It was a real fast track to head chef with little experience, so I'm proud of that.
I've also done some TV work which is quite an achievement. I've been on Market Kitchen and I'm in this series of Great British Menu. I'm the youngest person in this competition by seven years. I wasn't expecting to be chosen for it and it's quite a well-respected competition among chefs, so I was quite flattered to be asked on. I never thought they'd ask me on and but whatever I get out of it is going to be a good experience.
How I got to where I am:
When I first came to London at 18 to study at Westminster Catering College I got some part-time work at the Coach & Horses. After two years I left and went to work at The Prince of Wales in Putney. I'd been there for a year and was ready to leave when there was an opening for a head chef at the Coach & Horses, so I went back and have been there ever since.
I had to teach myself the management side of things and all the things that go with running a kitchen, but it's going really well and been really successful.
Why I became a chef:
My dad has got a bakery in the West Country and I did some work there when I was younger. My brothers and I used to do a lot of cooking at home when we were growing up too, so there's always been a family connection with food. I got my first job in the kitchen when I was 12 and was given a set of Global knives for my 13th birthday. Being a chef is what I always wanted to do.
Lots of people like working in a restaurant because they like the business, but I did it for the food. I know that some people get jaded working in the kitchen every day and night, but cooking doesn't ever feel like a chore to me. The chore is paying people and staff management, cooking is the good bit.
My tips for success:
Quite a lot of chefs are stuck in their ways, but I'm quite open to new ideas and always learning. I had someone working in the kitchen the other day and he wasn't very good at noticing what was going on around him, so I didn't ask him back. You need to keep your eyes open and not just be focused on your chopping board in this job. Look around at what's going on and pay attention to what other people are doing and you'll learn so much.
I'm still young and there are a thousand things I want to do, but I'm not aiming to conquer the world with a three Michelin-starred restaurant. I cook the food for the environment I'm in which is pub food at the moment, but I could equally adapt to a fine dining restaurant.
I plan to have my own business one day, but whether it's a restaurant, hotel, butchers, deli or something else in food I couldn't tell you.