Searching for perfection

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Camborne college, this was a good place to start for me as a level 3 Patisserie student. I was lucky enough to have a great teacher in John Woodhouse (now retired). Although only one day a week, he did manage to teach me a great deal in the basics and understanding of pastry. So, now I had a thirst for it and I needed to get to work in higher establishments to gain more skills. Tredragon hotel was an amazing place and the Chefs, front of house and the managers I worked with are all amazing, but, it wasn’t enough. After a number of years at the hotel I decided to take my first head pastry chefs job at the Headland Hotel in Newquay, this was an amazing building and well known to many. It was a shock to my system to work in such a big establishment and to get a kitchen of my own to work in, but the problem was that I was on my own with no other pastry chef to help. In such a big hotel this was very difficult trying to keep up with the day to day. So when I was on my days off, I wasn’t learning, I was surviving and I couldn’t do this forever. As always, in most cases it’s not the chef that wants to leave the place he or she is working. It’s usually the relentless hours, under pay and not having freedom to experiment with the skills they have. Needless to say I was on the move again.

I took a number of other jobs, not just in Pastry but also in the main kitchen as a larder chef, one of the places I had a great deal or teaching in was the Metropole Hotel in Padstow. We had a great team and everyone had great skills, it was one of the first places after the Tredragon where I felt we are all heading in the right direction. After a year or so, a new head chef and a couple of leavers after, the dynamics changed and this lead to want more but not here at the Metropole.

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I went to try and find a high level kitchen in Cornwall, this proved to be very difficult as there wasn’t many at the time.

I first Tried Chef Ripley’s at Ripley’s in st Merryn (one of Rick Steins Top chefs), unfortunately there wasn’t a position for me at the time. I had tried a number of different places without success. This was a point where I decided to give the whole chefing thing up and to try another trade.

So that’s what I did, I started a course on Network engineering, but I also need to earn some money also. Lucky for me I found a Kitchen hand job going just up the road in St Ervan, and also lucky for me it was at Nathan Outlaws! He did ask why I wanted to wash pots and do kitchen duties when I was already a trained chef, I explained my case and he fully understood and then offered me the job, I excepted.

Well, working with Nathan and Gordon Gray was something different and I had found my way into the kitchen that I wanted to be in, although starting at the bottom again. This didn’t matter to me because I was leaving the industry for good, well at least I thought I was.

It was a small kitchen with just 2 chefs and myself (two incredibly talented chefs). The food that was being produced was outstanding and delicious, I sampled everything that was made, I mean everything. I was in a good position to watch Nathan as he worked and get to know what he was all about, he taught me not to try and over imagine dishes and let the produce speak for itself. Easier said than done, but that’s why he is where he is. He did a lot of reading about different Technics within the kitchen but ultimately he had his own philosophy.

I found this inspiring and gave me a new incite to the catering world, I had fallen in love with food again. Nathan did say that we would take me and Gordon on his next adventure and I felt incredibly humbled by this, But he didn’t need to pastry chefs and that was what I still wanted to do.

After Hannah and I had spoken about our futures, we decided to leave Cornwall and come back to the Midlands, Birmingham to be precise. I also had to tell Nathan I was leaving, and I felt we left things on the wrong terms, this has never sat easy with me to this day. He is and will always be the most talented, friendly and approachable chefs I have ever come across. I decided to leave Cornwall because of the lack of pay and to get the training and development I needed to become a good pastry chef. Also for Hannah to be close to and able to work for her family and get help with childcare.

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The move went well, and the house was massive that we moved into, all I need now was a job. The first place I worked at was The Abby Hotel in Redditch. They had some good chefs there but it wasn’t for me and after a few months working there I found a job that suited me. The Welcome Hotel in Stratford upon Avon. A large hotel with a big pastry kitchen and a Commis chef Margot Germanotti to work with, Ideal. I had full control, of everything and was allowed ingredients that would help me to develop my skills, and together we went from strength to strength. Amongst the start of the Midlands move, Hannah was pregnant with our son Lucas, everything was looking good.

In the next part I will round it up to the present day in as short a way as I can. below are a few pics of the friends we left behind but are still great friends.

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