As a chef, I’ve a job with transferable skills, it’s one of the few professions where I’m able to quit my job, down my tools, pick up a backpack and go explore without any detrimental effect to my career. As long as I don’t do it too often I can go explore, do some cooking, learn to understand more ingredients, pick up some new ideas and skills. Get a new job and start again.
Having grown up in rural New Zealand, I spent an idyllic childhood surrounded by good home grown food. Many of my childhood memories are linked with food:
The days spent cooped up inside in the heat of summer, the angry bees from our hives searching for their lost bounty. Much of it smeared on my cheeks.
The former pet lamb that really did go well with some mint sauce, a conflicting experience over the dinner table, considering I had bottle fed it when it was younger.
Time spend under the shade of the plum tree, swinging on the branches trying to loosen the first of the seasons fruit.
I have so many memories like this, not realising at the time that people dream of moments like these.
There really was no surprise with such a healthy fascination with food I’d find my way into the culinary arts, a little push from my father away from the farm didn’t hurt either.
Now having spent nearly 20 years working in commercial kitchens, I’ve come along way, literally and figuratively. It’s been 18 years since I qualified as a chef and left New Zealand, and I’m now based in the UK. I’ve worked in almost every conceivable catering field in a number of countries: 5 star hotels in Australia, pubs/ bars/ hospitals and schools during temping stints in Ireland, AA rosette and Michelin listed restaurants in Scotland and casual pop-ups in England.
Most recently I’ve been delivering high end fine dining to the discerning business clients in contract catering roles in London.
I have enjoyed traveling through 30+ countries over the years. For my own record I’ve kept notes of the experiences I’ve had, the food I’ve eaten. Something to come back when I’m old and grey.
It’s the travel that engages me, as I search for more of life’s great experiences, with a back pack slung over my shoulders and a groan in my belly I relish the step into the unfamiliar. Not knowing what’s round the corner, what the smell is in the air, knowing that a pen, my camera and the scrap of paper in my pocket will be enough to help recall some of the days events.
With every meal I eat, every new idea I see, I add to my experience of life and my knowledge of food.