After a few years at The Welcome Hotel it was time to move on. Now, with my memory being as shit as it is, I can’t remember if I went the Forest in Dorrige or Billesley Manor. Anyhow, both place had some great chefs in them and some have gone on to do some amazing things, I am blessed to have been able to work with such talent. The talent also rubbed of on myself and this is how I see my ability, taking a little something from every chef that I have had the pleasure of working with, the way they work, their individual styles and plating techniques, they have all helpd me be creative.
I did work in number of hotels around the area of Warwickshire, including working 90 plus hour weeks in Broadway which was obviously not maintainable long term. There are another 2 places that really shaped me into the pastry chef I am today. The first one being Ardencote Manor. This was ran by a Head Chef that goes by the name of Ian Buckle, he hired me as the pastry chef and also another couple of other gentlemen chefs called Karl Stephen Martin and Stuart Scanlan. These two chaps are great chefs and also have cracking personality’s. We worked together very closely to gain the 2 rosettes that we were hunting for. What a ride we had along the way, long hours, hundreds of people to serve and huge weddings that sometimes broke us, but the camaraderie, laughs and skill made things that little bit easier. The unfortunate part of Ardencote was Ian, a very aggressive personality when things didn’t go his way, sometimes reducing chefs to tears for not performing, a complete bully. This is something that has never sat well with me and it’s not someone I would ever look up to or work for anymore. And with this I left, I advised Martin and Stuart do do the same.
Out of the fire into the frying pan. I left to try and revive the desserts at a Place in Birmingham called Mustaqs in |Spark Hill. I was sold a dream and made promises and of course these never came to light. I had hit an all time low at this job, reduced to working one day a week just before Christmas with a family to care for. I was in despair and full of worry, I had no choice but to leave and find another job. As any chef knows, trying to find a job in January is so difficult, I ended up being unemployed for over a month until I took on some agency work. I think in these times you learn a whole lot about yourself as a person and a chef. Every chef goes through these incredible down points as the industry can be ruthless, heartbreaking and can devour your soul. You have to be head strong with an indomitable spirit!
Things do have a funny way of fixing themselves as long as you can think positively, maybe not instantly but it does happen. Luckily for me a development job came up with a six month time limit to cover maternity leave. Ideal, it’s something I’d always wanted to do, so what a fabulous opportunity. It meant living away 5 days a week, which at first was difficult, but the teaching I received about the industry was invaluable. Precise measurement, precision cooking, product development for some of the largest food corporations in the UK. But most of all, the amazing amount of different ways to get longevity out of products (haha, boring I know but this would help later in my career). At the end of my time with Bakkavor i went back to agency work (something I didn’t enjoy) until another couple of opportunities came up.
One called The Wood Norton and another called Ashornehill in Leamington Spa. I was offered the job as pastry chef at the Wood Norton hotel without an interview as he had seen my work on social media, Hmm, something not right there!. I went to Ashorne to have an interview with a certain Stuart Anderson. Well, what can I say, we hit it off straight away and it felt right. This would be the second place that helped shape me as a pastry chef. I met the team with the Sous chef Matt Wiltshire whom I also hit it of with from day one, what a place. I was given a blank canvas to work with in terms of a pastry kitchen and then I was off to a running start. I loved the place, it was fun, we also had a good time and I was free to develop the kitchen how I wanted it. I eventually got Stuart Scanlan an interview for a CDP job, which I knew he would get not just for his skill but for his character. The circle was complete.
With Ashorne I took advantage of every opportunity to develop myself and the desserts I was trying to create, reading books on new techniques, search for recipes of things I had never done but had seen on social media. The whole team had great knowledge of the industry and with all this talent in one kitchen brought out the best in all of us. I may have thrown a few hissy fits (like I do if you know me and have worked with me, lol) but this is pure passion for the job.
After a year or so my marriage went down hill and I ended up leaving home. This in turn had a bad effect on work and working at Ashorne. It broke the perfect job, so I thought.
Money was tighter, travel was longer and times were hard. Another job came up closer to home and I had to say my goodbyes, it was heartbreaking.
But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. The job was at Resorts World Birmingham, and what a massive job it was. A team of 7 including myself and a brand new development…….Perfect. Here I am to this day, my wife and I got back together and we now live back in Cornwall, I commute every week and it’s something I love doing, the job is always changing and it’s somewhere I can be creative with my team. So in all, things are great!!
That rounds things up to today, I will hopefully be talking about the industry, here in Birmingham and the difference around the country. I personal mission to create more successful pastry chef for Birmingham and the surround areas.