What was your first job in hospitality?
Management technical trainee for De Vere Hotels in 1988
What do you normally have for breakfast?
Depends where I am - if on site, it will be a coffee and a bacon butty; at home, coffee and a couple of yogurts. If I'm at home during the weekend, I'll cook a full English breakfast for my girlfriend and me.
What do you do to relax?
Surfing the net - I just find it fascinating. I'll also watch some of the TV I've recorded during the week.
What is your favourite prepared product?
Which is your favourite restaurant?
Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée in Paris. I went for my 30th birthday and I was just amazed at the food, attention to detail and service. My dining partner had asked for a signed menu as a memento; instead I got a goodie bag with a freshly baked loaf of bread - quite random. In the UK, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Gidleigh Park and Robert Thompson at the Hambrough all rate highly.
What's your favourite hotel?
The Metropolitan, Park Lane, London
What is your favourite food/cuisine?
Chinese or Thai for take-away, contemporary French for eating out
Which person in catering have you most admired?
Raymond Blanc. I grew up in the era when Le Manoir was establishing itself. Nobody is more synonymous with any product or brand in hospitality that so personifies quality.
Which person gave you the greatest inspiration?
The first chef de partie I worked under, Richard "Tiny" Banks. He was a giant of a man who took a naïve 16-year-old under his wing. Sadly, we lost touch a number of years ago.
Which ingredient do you hate the most?
Okra. Really, what is the point?
Cast away on a desert island, what luxury would you take?
A decent bed and mattress. I can achieve so much with a good night's sleep.
If not yourself, who would you rather have been?
Describe your ultimate nightmare
A restaurant full of fruitarians
Tell us a secret…
I'm allergic to bananas
What irritates you about the industry?
Lieu days. Owners and managers demand that their staff work extra days because of demands on the business. Yet when staff come to use accrued lieu time there are always excuses to why they can't take the days they would like. It shows a real lack of give and take by the industry.
Who would be in your fantasty brigade?
Alan Murchison (L'Ortolan), Claire Clark, Tim Hollingsworth (French Laundry), Jason Atherton (Pollen Street Social) and Shaun Hill (the Walnut Tree) - all people that I admire and respect in the industry
Chef Hermes, author of the Chef Hermes blog