How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Head Chef of the Galley restaurant in Topsham Since September 2018, so almost two years.
Give a brief overview of your career.
I started cooking straight from school, it was and still is my hobby, that then grew into a career. I worked and trained at a small family run restaurant in Kenton Devon in 2004 and stayed for the first two years of my career, winning student of the year for my apprenticeship course.
After a brief glimpse into the madness of Michelin kitchens, working at Gidleigh park, I decided to move on and see what else the catering world had to offer and I ended up working as sous chef at the Beer Engine pub in Newton at Cyres in 2007, a great food led pub and met a fantastic chef and top bloke mike welsh, they did great beers too brewed on site in there own micro brewery.
In 2011, I moved to work at the Puffing Billy in Exton, a great place with a fantastic reputation for good food, we were a busy operation and leading a large brigade to achieve the teams goals was a lot of fun, hard work but worth it.
In 2013, I made a choice to move to the Conservatory in Exeter, working with Chef patron mike Barry. Again a family run operation with a fantastic working environment and atmosphere, just two of us in the kitchen serving some incredible food, lots of freedom and creativity with the menu being open to my suggestions meant that mike and I had a great working relationship and I loved my time there, great food and great people.
After a brief 6/7-month period in 2017 working with Ian Webber at the five bells, only bought to a close due to the pub changing hands.
I started working at the Galley in Topsham, a foodie Mecca, great community spirited and some top quality produce right on our doorstep, I feel my team have continued to add to the already fantastic reputation of this establishment and the town.
Where did you learn your skills?
I trained via an apprenticeship scheme, through Exeter college and with working 5 days a week at the Rodean Restaurant in Kenton, under Chef patron Matthew tilt.
A path I would recommend to anyone thinking of becoming a chef, this gives you a real taste of the real catering world as early as your first day and you can gain a lot more experience and knowledge quicker than through a full time college course, in my opinion.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The creativity and freedom of expression through food and making people happy when they’ve enjoyed a meal you’ve created. I also love the mid service buzz, it is like electricity flowing through you.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I make a mean lasagne. No seriously, I’m proud of all my dishes and I stand by them, if I didn’t like them they would not go live, we have lots of trial and errors before they make it to the menu for customers to taste.
How do you come up with new dishes?
With a lot of time, planning and thinking. We follow the seasons as closely as possible and talk with all our producers and suppliers to find out what’s good and what’s not, then we start with our chosen protein and build around it, we use previous tried and tested flavour combinations but try to put our ethos into there preparation and cooking, clean, simple and packed full of flavour.
Who was your greatest influence?
This is a hard one, I’ve always tried to take something from working with every chef I’ve met, big influences on my food style though have been all the different places I have worked. Each with its own style, has made me more adaptable in the kitchen.
What is your favourite cookbook?
Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen is one of my favourite books, great for referencing and technique as well as dish inspiration.