Head Chef
Scottish Parliament

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Brian N

00:00: 02 I’m Brian N, I’m head chef at Garden Level at the Scottish Parliament. I’m the head chef on Garden Level which is the main staff restaurant, we cater for anything up to eighteen hundred people, well it’s eighteen hundred people in the building that can use our facility.

00:00:21 I’m responsible for four chefs on our level, we produce four main courses every day, we’ve got a salad bar, have a deli bar, so my job involves obviously the day to day running of the kitchen, planning of the menus, doing all the ordering, for all three levels in the parliament.

00:00:37 Before the parliament I worked for another contract catering company based at one of the banks in Edinburgh, was there for ten years. When the Scottish Parliament was in the press I decided that was the job I wanted so I made roads into finding who was working there, got a contact, applied for the job, got an interview and ended up with a job.

00:00:58 There’s twenty weeks in the year where the MSP are on recess it’s not quite holiday but they’re not here, so the business halves cos all their support staff etc aren’t here, so that gives us time to do our menu developments. In jobs I’ve had in the past you haven’t had the opportunity to spend a lot of time doing the menu developments and the costings and doing like on job training with staff. Whereas here we get that opportunity.

00:01:24 I always remember mum saying I wasn’t really academically inclined at school and I did have a genuine interest in cooking from an early age and it’s just something I progressed into and certainly have no regrets about.

00:01:37 I personally feel that things maybe have changed but when I was at school the careers advice we were given was just a careers officer looking at how you were performing at school and just stereotyping you, putting you into bands and saying, well this is perhaps what you should be doing.

00:01:52 I think it was recommended when I was at school that I should get an office job working for the Civil Service. I’m not an office person, I couldn’t sit down at a desk eight hours a day.

00:02:03 I didn’t want to say to my friends I’m working as a chef, cos it just, it wasn’t glamorous at all in those days, I didn’t know any chefs. I didn’t want to take a general catering course, I felt personally I was a little better for that, which it was my biggest mistake I should have done the general catering course which is more food orientated. The job I ended up with the college course I was doing was more management based, which I suppose I’m now using these skills but at that early age I sometimes feel that if I’d had more experience in some hotels I could have developed myself a little further.

00:02:37 It took me quite a wee while before started developing. I think, I was about 28, 29 before I started getting senior positions.

00:02:44 I worked for eight years just as a cook, no formal training, it was a self service restaurant on the high street. I was going in there just doing your run of the mill cooking food. I knew I was gonna have a big transition period if I wanted to make a serious go of being a chef.

00:03:05 When the restaurant I was working in closed down so my hand was forced and I took a job as a chef at the Royal Bank of Scotland. Again it was contract catering but it was proper cheffing. For about six months, to a year I struggled in a junior position, but I was very keen, and the chef I was working with at the time recognised I was very keen and spent a lot of time with me, and four years down the line I was executive chef at the Royal Bank.

00:03:32 What I feel personally I’ve missed out on was at a very early age going into a hotel where you’re gonna be working nine, ten hours a day, not necessarily being subjected to the nicer parts of the job, but to go in at the bottom, keep your head down and learn, and I’ve seen lots of chefs come through who are now no longer working in the industry. You know maybe they’ve started off cheffing, now they’re working as lift engineers, just because they didn’t have the passion. You have to have the passion, that is very easily picked up on by senior chefs.

00:04:11 END

Brian N is Head Chef at the Scottish Parliament “We cater for anything up to eighteen hundred people”. Brian did a catering course after school- he didn’t want his friends to know – “it wasn’t glamorous at all in those days”. In his earlier career he says “I struggled in a junior position, but I was very keen, and the chef I was working with spent time with me, and four years down the line I was executive chef at the Royal Bank.”

More information about Chefs

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

78%  male 
22%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Chefs plan menus and prepare, or oversee the preparation of food in hotels, restaurants, clubs, private households and other establishments.
There are no formal academic requirements. Training is provided off- and on-the-job. NVQs/ SVQs, BTEC Certificates and Diplomas and foundation degrees are available. Apprenticeships leading to an NVQ/SVQ at Level 3 are also available. Courses are also run by private cookery schools.
  • Requisitions or purchases and examines foodstuffs from suppliers to ensure quality;
  • Plans menus, prepares, seasons and cooks foodstuffs or oversees their preparation and monitors the quality of finished dishes;
  • Supervises, organises and instructs kitchen staff and manages the whole kitchen or an area of the kitchen;
  • Ensures relevant hygiene and health and safety standards are maintained within the kitchen;
  • Plans and co-ordinates kitchen work such as fetching, clearing and cleaning of equipment and utensils.
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