Growing up with a family who enjoy food, I was always around good cooking so I was creating a strong bond with food at an early age.
I can remember picking strawberries with Mum, Dad and my two younger brothers, not far from where we lived, I have great memories of spending time with my Gran pickling onions and making Christmas cakes in September ready for the festive season. So from around the age of 13 I had made my mind up that cooking was what I wanted to do.
I left school at 16, and started as an apprentice with Hilton Hotels, my mentor and Chef was Roger Hulstone. This was the first time I’d ever stepped foot into a commercial kitchen, and my first job. I was there for 5 years which in a Chef’s world is a long time. I was the first apprentice to complete the training scheme in 18 months. I left the Hilton Hotels as a senior Chef de Partie. Upon reflection, I had a great apprenticeship and these formative years were a solid foundation for a Chef.
I moved to a small local restaurant where I worked for 3 years, leaving as Head Chef at the age of 24.
It was now time to spread my wings, so I took a position at Gordon Ramsey’s, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, 3 Michelin Star restaurant, well if you are going in, it might as well be the deep end!
Ramsey’s was a bit of an eye opener, and first hand I was able to understand how a busy, very professional kitchen ran. Disciplined hard work, the days were extremely long. Ramsey was producing some of the best food I’ve ever seen. Having seen the best I wanted to to be part of it. It was an experience working at Ramsey’s and I’m glad I did it.
However, London didn’t do it for me, so I moved back to the Midlands to work at the 1 Michelin Star, Mallory Court, Warwick, part of the Eden Group. Head Chef, Simon Haigh. Simon taught me that you didn’t have to work at 100 miles a hour to produce a very high standard of food, but anyone who knows me, will know I only go at one speed – 100 miles an hour, most of the time!
A year later I did a stage at the 2 Michelin Star, Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham, Chef David Everitt-Matthias. I loved David’s style and the approach to his food. Out of the blue he offered me a job. If I’m honest it was like a finishing school for me. After running the pastry section and being involved with David’s second book, “Essence Desserts” I decided to move on. I’m proud of what I achieved with David and we keep in touch to this day.
Moving back to the Eden Group was the turning point in my career. I opened the restaurant at the Arden Hotel, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire. New challenges came along with not only a kitchen to manage, but a team to build from scratch. It was hard work but the rewards and sense of achievement were well worth it.
Eden Group took over a another new hotel, I was asked to go and have a look at Brockencote Hall, Worcestershire. A 21 bedroom country house hotel set in 70 acres of farmland. I remember going up the drive of this beautiful estate having already half made my mind up. By the time I left all the boxes were ticked.
This is where I am today.