TheDevilsMenu.com was born to inspire, teach and share the esoteric magick of food. Join my cult and worship the kitchen!!!
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Here is a bit about my story…
I started my professional cooking career in 1991 at 18 years old in the world famous Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Learning the trade in that amazing building surrounded by artifacts from the ancient world I learned to cook dishes from France to Japan and all in between. Over the next ten years I cooked for celebrities, royalty and foreign dignitaries like the Queen Mother and Princess Diana at some of London’s most iconic buildings and restaurants.
In 1993 I moved to Sir Terrance Conran’s new restaurant, Quaglino’s. There I worked under Head Chef John Torode co-presenter of Masterchef UK. Gregg Wallace, the other half of Masterchef UK, was the fruit and veg supplier and very much like a ‘Dodgy Del Boy’ in those days.
Paparazzi and Celeb’s filled the tiny entrance and spilled onto the street as everyone tried to get into ‘Quags’. It was the place to be seen and a magnificent place to work: 60 chefs, up to 1200 covers a day and we still made good food (even with those vast numbers). We worked crazy hours and got paid a pittance but it was great experience and I got to work and meet many great chefs like Campagne chef/owner Garret Byrne who was also part of the team at ‘Quags’.
The next step for me was to learn more about food in a more relaxed environment and that took me to the Halcyon Hotel in Holland Park. A ‘pink-palace’ five star boutique hotel used as a filming location in the 1997 ‘Saint’ movie. The Halcyon had a great team of chefs that could cook rings around Torode. The food was amazing and Martin Hadden the head chef was a great teacher. We served food to Snoop Dog (who was asked to leave the hotel because of me, lol) and various movie/TV stars and other VIPs. The Halcyon showed me what good food was all about, it wasn’t about shouting and abuse, it was about care and attention to detail.
I then worked as a temporary chef for a year or so in some of London’s Top restaurants: Langans Brassiere, The Ivy, L’Escargot and other prestigious firms in the city.
A few short stints in various venues followed as I had begun my “Not Taking anymore Shit” period of my career. Where over zealous bosses were told where to stick their jobs and ego’s. Then I decided that I didn’t want to work every weekend and hour that God sent. I found a job as Sous Chef at Lehman Brothers in the city of London which was an amazing place to work: no budget in the kitchen, whatever you wanted to use was got for you. Such superb food was created that any Michelin starred restaurant would have been proud of. Fine dining was served to Directors and VIPs in private rooms where billion pound deals were done. Only the very best food and wines were ever served there. And best of all, I got to work Monday to Friday 7am – 4pm instead of 7am – 1am, 6-7 days a week.
Around a year later I got offered a job as Head Chef in a Swiss Bank in London and jumped at the chance, it was a brilliant place where I had a lot of fun. But I wasn’t really enjoying cooking as much as I was partying. So I left to run a private fine dining restaurant in Covent Garden that allowed me to cook what I really wanted to and allowed me to ‘party’ when I wanted (not really a good idea).
Stress and temper tantrums did happen and your health really gets a beating after a while. After a few months I had burnt the candle at both ends and needed to take a break and took some time out from cooking.
Whilst on my break, I got asked if I would be up for doing some cooking for a short period in Holloway Women’s Prison. Now, this interested me greatly so I got security clearance and started working in the kitchens with some lovely female criminals. The food wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it was slightly unnerving working with some convicted killers who had access to large kitchen knives. I really liked the ladies I worked with in there. They were all very friendly only one tried to threaten me, lol.
One day I got a phone call asking if I would come to an interview in East London to work as a private chef for some business men near the docklands. I went and got offered a large sum of money to cook 5-6 days a week in a pub that they owned. This wasn’t my usual type of gig but the money was good and I had great fun for a few months working for what turned out to be serious gangsters. But as they loved my food I never had a moment’s trouble with them. I saw the guys on the front cover of the evening standard newspaper few years later and they are all in prison now for been extremely naughty.
I stopped cooking professionally early in the 21st century and started a new career working in sales but kept cooking privately. Everybody wants to be a cook/chef nowadays but it’s not all about one plate of lovely food or a dinner party; its repetition, exhaustion, sweat, tears, burns, humiliation, elation, wonder, misery, laughter, fear and madness. But if you get through the maze of professional cooking it will leave you with a great set of skills and stories that you can’t talk about for fear of been sued.
I would have never thought that in the last ten years I would be learning more about food and flavours than when working everyday with them as a professional chef. Having the time and skills to enjoy cooking was an eye opening experience that brought my knowledge of food to a completely different level. I love food with a passion and I keep learning more about it everyday. Showing friends and family how to cook food better is a great feeling and where I found my real vocation. So I decided to start using my skills consulting, teaching and catering privately while I’m developing some wonderful tasty products for my The Devils Menu Brand.