How long have you been in this role?
I have been the Executive Head Chef at Bovey Castle since April 2015. How did you get into cooking? I always wanted to be a chef from as long as I can remember. Cooking was something that I have always been interested in and liked to do from a young age.
Do you think there was enough advice available when you were starting out?
No nearly as much when I was starting out as there is now. That can only be a good thing. How long did it take you to get to the level you’re at now?During my career I have had three Executive Head Chef positions, my first in 2009 at the Stafford in London, so it’s taken 14 years to reach this level.
Do you think enough people are encouraged to teach at schools or go into catering? Is there too much emphasis on going into a restaurant?
As a chef I was always encouraged to get into hotel restaurants and I wasn’t ever encouraged to teach at schools, or to go into catering. I believe that this should and could be improved.
What made you go into that sector?
I decided to go in to the hotel restaurant sector after working in the kitchen at Dartington in Devon as a 21 year old. This drove me to relocate to London and to work in some of the best hotel restaurants in London. What do you like most about your job?
The fact that the team and I produce beautiful and delicious food that I know customers will be delighted with, and will leave the restaurant happy and with a smile on their face.
What does your job entail?
As the Executive Head Chef at Bovey Castle I am responsible for the day to day running of the kitchens, food operation and health and safety. I am responsible for the 3 rosette Great Western restaurant, 80 cover à la carte Smith’s Brasserie, 100 cover casual dining, banqueting, private dining, weddings and daily production of afternoon tea.
I am responsible for the menu compilation for all areas, training and development of employees, health and safety throughout the operation and purchasing and sourcing of food products. Financial responsibilities include £2 million in food sales, fixed costs, gross profits and payroll. Otherwise, I’m pretty much at leisure.
What would you advise for someone looking to follow in your footsteps? Do you have any top tips?
Work hard and fast, and listen well.
What are you looking out for on a CV or in an interview if someone was applying to work with you?
The main features I look out for when employing a new chef are: experience, flair, willing to continue learning, friendliness, good sense of humour, and ability to fit in with the dynamics of the kitchen. Over the last few years at Bovey Castle I have been able to create a stable kitchen with a waiting list of chefs who want to work here.
Describe your cooking/ethos in 4 words.
Fresh, local, seasonal produce.
What is your favourite dish at home to cook?
I love to do a BBQ for friends and family.
What dish would you cook to impress?
The Bovey Castle Estate Venison Saddle pot roasted in Douglas fir, braised red cabbage and chestnuts, blackcurrant sauce.
Favourite ingredient to work with?
Because I enjoy working with an array of ingredients there would be many ingredients that I could class as my favourite, but I particularly love the game season and working with game.
Favourite local ingredient?
Here in Devon and the South West we have an abundance of local ingredients available to us. But as we now have a deer park at Bovey Castle my favourite local ingredient has to be the Bovey Castle Estate Venison.
Top 5 tips/words of wisdom for someone cooking at home?
Get your timings correct; use fresh seasonal ingredients; don’t take on too much; enjoy your cooking; don’t be afraid to try cooking different methods and cuisines.