How I Got Here: Nick Deverell-Smith

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with The Churchill Arms owner Nick Deverell-Smith

Related tags: Chef, Restaurant, Pub

Former Soho House chef Nick Deverell-Smith owns The Churchill Arms pub in the Cotswolds.

Why restaurants?
I loved cooking even from the age of around eight or nine. I got the bug, and always wanted to be a head chef one day. My career progressed from there, really.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
I absolutely love my job, but the hours are long. I probably didn’t realise at the beginning just how long they would be.

What do you do in your spare time?
I walk the dog, research my next holiday, and, obviously, I eat out.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?​ 
The Coach is a favourite of mine. I look to Tom Kerridge for inspiration. He’s 15 years ahead of me, but I aim high.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in restaurants?
My neighbour in London was a fashion photographer and I always thought he was super cool. Travelling the world taking pictures of beautiful people; dream job.  

What motivates you?
I’m very competitive even with myself, so when I set myself a challenge, I need to succeed. I’m also hugely motivated to look after my family. They spur me on.  

Where was your last holiday?
It was actually a trip my girlfriend organised for my birthday. We went to St Tropez.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
I have a few answers for different stages in my life. At college I was young and immature, and I was inspired by a teacher, Mr Brocklesby. He took me under his wing and became a mentor for me during the Junior Chef of the Year competition.  My first real boss was the amazing Andreas Antoner, who runs Simpsons in Kenilworth. I built The Churchill Arms on the model of that restaurant; family-orientated, and boutique.  In London the best chef I ever worked with was Eric Chavot; he is so talented.  

What keeps you up at night?
New menu ideas, mostly. Also just little worries and stresses that come with running your own building and business.

Worst business decision?
Working with my brother…

Best business decision?
Employing my brother!

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Stephen Terry’s cookbook at the moment and it’s awesome.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
You can’t blag it. You have to understand the basics of running your own business because it will quickly get away from you if you don’t.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
I wish more young people would see it as a career decision rather than a stop gap. It’s hard work and dedication, but I started out with few qualifications, very little money and I am running a successful business now. If you learn to take it seriously, but also have fun, it’s hugely rewarding.

CV to date

Born:​ Leamington Spa, 1981

Education: ​University of Salford | BA (Hons) in Catering & Hospitality Management

June 2014-present - Chef/proprietor/owner | The Churchill Arms
August 2012-June 2014 - Head chef | Soho House Group
October 2011-August 2012 - Head chef | Village East, Bermondsey
June 2009-September 2011 - Head chef | Soho House, London
Feb 2008-June 2009 - Sous chef | The Capital Hotel, Knightsbridge

Related topics: People

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