How I got to where I am now:
I started at the Anglesey Arms in Hammersmith 11 years ago as a part-time commis while I was at school. It was a real gastropub before gastropubs really took off and it was an amazing place to start out. All the team really loved food, the menus were constantly changing and there was amazing fresh produce coming in to the kitchen all the time.
I was at an academically driven school where they expected you to go on to university, but I’d found this career I enjoyed so I decided to go to Manchester Metropolitan to study for a degree in Culinary Arts. While I was there I did a placement year at Gleneagles, a completely different place to the Anglesey Arms, but working there gave me a grounding in the classic techniques and I still maintain that every chef really needs that.
When I left university I stayed in Manchester for six months to help out a friend setting up a restaurant before coming back to London. There was only one place I wanted to work and that was Chez Bruce. It’s still a restaurant that continues to be top of its game. I spent an amazing two years working my way around the sections there learning from Bruce and from Matt (Christmas) before going on to Launceston Place.
Launceston Place had been open a month when I went in for my trial as a junior sous chef with Tristan (Welch). It was a very different place – much more modern and I saw it as an amazing opportunity. Within 13 months I was head chef. I put that down purely to the kind of relationship we had and to the hard work I’d put in, but I didn’t expect it. I’d gone there to learn, I didn’t think I’d be running the kitchen, so that was a huge challenge for me.
After two years there I felt it was time for another challenge. Launceston Place has Tristan’s personality stamped on it and I felt I wanted to put my personality into a place so I took on the job of head chef at Manson.
I’m using everything I have learnt over the last 10 years and you’ll see influences from everywhere I’ve worked on my menu which uses 100 per cent British produce.
My greatest achievement:
Going from junior sous chef to head chef at Launceston Place in 13 months was a big achievement, particularly at a restaurant of that quality in London where customers were always leaving happy.
My biggest challenge:
Running the kitchen at Launceston Place and maintaining the standards that had been set by Tristan were challenging, but it has also been a big challenge having my name above the door at Manson. At Launceston Place I had responsibilities in the kitchen, but now I’m overseeing the whole restaurant – I’ve had a hand in front-of-house for example and have changed the whole concept of the restaurant in the past eight months I’ve been here so there’s a lot more to think about. It’s been a massive learning experience if nothing else.
My future plans:
At the moment I’m very happy at Manson and I think we are doing some great things. I’m only eight months in and we are improving every day, but I think I’m heading in the right direction.
Looking further forward. Yes, down the line I’d like to run my own restaurant where I could grow my own produce and get more involved in the seasons.
If I wasn’t a chef I’d be…..
I was supposed to go to university to study sociology, but I don’t know what I would have done with that. I have a big passion for the outdoors, so maybe something like growing produce as I’ve been very interested in how that side of thing works in my job now. Really though, I feel very lucky to have made the decision I have and wouldn’t want to change my job.