00:00:03 My name’s Paul Z, I’m the Head Chef at the Coppid Beech Hotel. The Head Chef generally runs the kitchen on a day to day basis. It depends where he works, and depends what his duties include. But it’s things like keeping up staff morale, anything from ordering, menu writing, making sure the product’s right when it goes to the table. It can come down to designing kitchens, buying china, cutlery, all those sort of things. All part of the process of putting the food on the table.
00:00:36 The first job I had was in a small Bistro, and I worked with an Austrian man who was a bit of a crazy bloke. Passionate about food, loved doing food, but used to get too excited, used to get very excited, and start throwing things, and flicking things up in the air, and if you were in the way, you sort of got whacked on the head with a tomato, things like that. The first thing I was doing, I was actually just looking for a part time job, I was – so I went in and I literally started doing the washing up. And from there – I had no intention to become a chef. Basically through the period of time I ended up doing less washing up and doing more cooking.
00:01:13 I think he was more forcing me on to the thing rather than saying do you want to do it? But then I found that I actually understood – understood the food quite a lot, and I enjoyed what I did. And it was better than washing up. So – it’s a bit of a strange experience but it was him that sort of started me in the direction, because his passion sort of rubbed off on me. It was something that I suddenly thought – I like doing this, I enjoy doing this, and it’s actually good fun.
00:01:37 I liked going to school, I enjoyed school. I enjoyed drawing and art and photography, and that’s what I was going to do with my career. That was what my main focus was. I was actually going to become a Camera Technician, that’s what I was aiming to do, when I left school. But unfortunately I had a bit of a disagreement with the Headmistress on the last year of school before I was going to go into sort of Higher Education. I decided I was going to go and do a charity run with a friend of mine, but didn’t bother to tell anybody. So when we went back to school, she was a bit displeased, and then turned round and said well obviously you’re expelled. And I sat and thought well with all due respect to you, so what. And I went off and I decided I was going to go to Catering College from there.
00:02:20 I enjoyed college a lot. It was just full of information. I got given lots of opportunities while I was there. It was one of those things, I knew it was for me, I knew at that point that I enjoyed the cooking part. I didn’t know what sort of hotels or restaurants I’d like to work in, I just knew I wanted to work in good food ones. Not producing run of the mill food, but things that people hadn’t seen, new products, things that were exciting to me and exciting for other people.
00:02:47 I wanted to be the best, basically, I wanted to be the best chef that I could be. But it was a case of knowing to go to the good kitchens and learn about good food. So that’s what I did, I went off in search of people that could cook. Sometimes I went there and I was disappointed, other times I, you know, I’d found certain groups of chefs that knew how to manage kitchens, they knew how to cook food, and they knew how to give me what I wanted. The other things I use, is I tend to use a lot of books, I refer to the likes of Gordon Ramsey, Marco Pierre White and all their books. I spend a lot of time nicking other people’s ideas, and practising them, and teaching myself how to cook, which didn’t always give great results, but it made me better as I got better and better because I knew what didn’t work.
00:03:33 As I learnt more and more skills it was more about practising my skills. So I was looking for kitchens that were better organised, very very big kitchens rather than the small ones. And the Coppid Beech is a massive operation. As I said it’s got three restaurants, it’s got banqueting for 750 and 205 bedrooms. And there’s hotels even bigger this, that take even more organisation. But maybe that’s something that I’ll do in the future.