Career Profile: Arnaud Stevens

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Head chef, Executive head chef, Chef

Arnaud Stevens, executive head chef at The Gherkin restaurant and group development chef for Searcys
Arnaud Stevens, executive head chef at The Gherkin restaurant and group development chef for Searcys
Arnaud Stevens is executive head chef at 40/30 at The Gherkin and group development chef for Searcys. Part of the management team at Searcys, he has overall responsibility for the kitchen at The Gherkin while also overseeing all food concepts for the company's public restaurants at venues such as the Commonwealth Club, Blenheim Palace and Champagne Bars at St Pancras and One New Change. 

How I got to where I am now:

I first started out in the industry by completing a three year apprentice scheme set up by Forte at the five-star Hotel Imperial in Torquay.

From there, I was offered a trial at Gary Rhodes' City Rhodes restaurant. I had a good friend working in London who pushed me to make the move and it's safe to say it was the best move I ever made.

There, I worked alongside Michael Bedford, who was head chef for Gary at the time. It was down to him and others I worked with that I am in the position I am today, as they taught me discipline, the benefits of hard work and all the required good basics to move on.

As I moved on I was very lucky to work under some of the industry's finest chefs - Pierre Koffmann, Tom Aikens, Jacques and Laurent Pourcel and  Richard Corrigan, who had previously worked for Searcys and therefore had a major influence on the senior position I now hold.

I joined Searcy's in 2009 as senior head chef at The Opera House in London, rising to executive head chef after seven months. Then, at the end of 2010 I was part of a management buyout along with some of the club directors, giving me a percentage in Searcys.

At the same time I took on the role of executive head chef at 40/30 at The Gherkin, which had been run by Michael Lynch, a very close friend and now the head chef at Richard Corrigan's Bentley's, who had left a huge legacy behind. With my other commitments to the company (overseeing all dining and food at the Champagne Bars and private dining contracts) some could say that I was taking a risk, however through building my own team and true perseverance we have managed to rebuild an incredible team of chefs and, I think have also raised the bar slightly. 

I like to think I have the best of both worlds in my job - as group development chef for Searcys I have been involved with many food and restaurant concepts, which are open to the public, but I also get a chance to see what private dining is like through my role at 40/30 at The Gherkin. 

My biggest challenge:​  

Achieving consistency in the sites I look after, not only in terms of the food offering, but also with profit margins, staff cost forecasts and managing Environmental Health administration. 

My greatest achievement: 

We have won a few event awards which I am very proud of and also retained our five stars from Environmental Health, our margins have been higher than previous records, and the standard of cooking has been consistent and constantly pushed by myself and the senior team.

Although the Gherkin is a private sector building, we have managed to have a few well regarded reviewers from the Times, Telegraph and various food publication magazines come in. Also, someone from The AA guide visited last month for dinner and although they would not award us because of the restriction rules of the building set up, they did point out that we were of a three to four Rosette standard which I was incredibly proud of.

However, I would have to say my biggest achievement is working with Searcy's to develop sites and restaurants. I have been involved in winning contracts at places such as Blenheim Palace and setting up the One New Change Champagne Bar food offer. However, setting up and running the Commonwealth Club in Trafalgar Square, which is is now run by my right-hand-man Oliver Tobias is particularly memorable as it was an amazing journey.   

My advice to chefs starting out:

Focus and work hard and be prepared to take 10 years to get to a senior position correctly. You should only work for the best people in the particular field you want to enter ie. hotels, restaurants or events, but above all enjoy what you do, being a chef is a fantastic job with huge rewards.

If I wasn't a chef I'd be.....

...a central midfield player for Liverpool FC

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