Today marks the 3rd anniversary of my trial shift at The Ship in Wandsworth, 3 years since I stood trembling outside the kitchen door working up the courage to walk in and put a life long dream on the line. I just wanted to take this chance to thank the people who have helped me live that dream every day since.
Firstly I want to thank Oisin Rogers, who started me on this road, Osh not only opened the door for me but pretty much pushed me through it. He arranged that very first trial shift at The Ship and in doing so provided me with a dream environment for a chef to learn his trade. To be able to cut my teeth in a kitchen of that calibre where standards are incredibly high and the focus is on producing exceptional food with every dish was the making of me. Since that first day Osh has remained a true friend who has always been there ready to give me a pat on the back or a kick in the arse as needed.Thank you
To my friend and mentor Grant Hawthorne who, when I truly felt that I was washed out and it was time to give up my dream talked me in to going back into the kitchen and giving it another go. He thought me that the most important quality a good chef must have is integrity.
To chefs like Mat Follas, Johnnie Mountain, Russell Brown and Mark Lloyd who have given me invaluable advice and support throughout my career.
To chefs like Mark Poynton, Nathan Outlaw, Tom Kerridge and Richard Corrigan who inspire me to be better.
To Ben Spalding from whom I learned to question everything when composing a dish, to look at it from every angle so that I might try and elevate every element
To Ed Francis and Phil White who showed me that a good chef is nothing without a great front of house team, sometimes I would simply watch in awe from the pass at how they ran a room.
To my two longest suffering sous chefs Keira Daniels and David Paton who have tried to always attach a method to my madness, having a sous who believes in what you want to do as a chef makes any goal easier to achieve, never once have either said “it can’t be done”. If I have had success it is down every bit as much to you as it is to me.
To my sounding board and wonderful friend John Comyn who has probably heard about every dish I’ve ever cooked before I ever cooked it but has never lost his enthusiasm to help me, like wise to Greg Start the one person (I think I am right in this) who has eaten everywhere I have cooked and lived to tell the tale. He even trusted me enough to bring his now girlfriend to eat at my restaurant as their first date (no pressure there then)
To Mick Dore who took a chance on a guy with 7 months experience and gave me the opportunity to show I could run a kitchen, I understand the risk you and Sarah took and will always appreciate it.
To Ben Walton who handed me the keys to his restaurant and gave me the chance to truly understand myself as a chef, I can’t begin to imagine how nerve racking that must have been.
To DHP Family and all at Oslo Hackney and to George who has challenged me to best chef I possibly can and given me a dream stage on which to showcase my talent. despite elements beyond our control we will deliver a truly stunning venue to London
To all those friends who have given me their time to come to tastings and openings and given me the type of honest opinion that I trust and that help make me a better chef, you know who you are and you know how much I appreciate your help
To all of those who doubted me or knocked me, you made me stronger and more determined to succeed
To everyone who helped with KaiWeCare and every other charity endeavour I have undertaken or been a part of, you have thought me what an incredible industry this is to be involved in, full of people who give of themselves for a worthy cause not for any other reason than it is the right thing to do. This industry may not be perfect but the people who strive constantly to make it better never lose sight of why we do this. No industry gives back more than ours and does so without the need for adulation or even recognition.
Most of all thank you to Alice Proctor, without you it simply wouldn’t have happened