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Ian Boden, head chef, Birmingham City Café

24 August 2006
Ian Boden, head chef, Birmingham City Café

Ian Boden, 29, has been head chef at Birmingham City Café, which is owned by boutique business hotel operator City Inn, since May. He describes his role as the biggest challenge of his career so far and says that, although this job probably won't earn him a Michelin star, it will put him in good shape for the future.

He says: "My responsibilities include so much more than simply running a kitchen. I am in charge of the 120-seat restaurant as well overseeing banquets and functions for up to 150 people and managing room service for the hotel's 234 rooms."

Previously, Boden worked as head chef of the one-AA-rosette 80-seat French restaurant at the four-star De Vere Belfry resort in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. He says the experience allowed him to handle the challenge at the City Café. "I learnt a lot about the politics of running a restaurant there. The experience of managing people, working with other departments and getting involved in the financial side of things was invaluable."

From 1993 to 1996, Boden studied at Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies, where he gained NVQ levels 1, 2 and 3 in kitchen and larder, food preparation and cooking, as well as basic and advanced certificates in food handlers' hygiene.

After his studies, he quickly built up a CV of impressive names and in 1999 took on the role of senior chef de partie at Birmingham's five-star Swallow hotel, where he met his "biggest influence", head chef Ian Mansfield.

Boden says: "Mansfield taught me that it's not about expensive, extravagant ingredients, but about making the best of what you've got, and this really had a major impact on my cooking."

He spent three years with Mansfield and in 2001 moved with him to the Forest hotel in Dorridge, West Midlands, where he became sous chef. In 2002 they parted company, and Boden joined Lower Slaughter Manor in Gloucestershire and, later, the Elms hotel in Abberley, Worcestershire, as pastry chef.

He says: "I decided to take on the role of pastry chef because I believe that, as a good head chef, you have to be an all-rounder. There are so many chefs who don't know enough about pastry, and it was important to me to learn that side of things."

An all-round chef with the managerial skills to run more than just a kitchen, Boden says he looks forward to what the future holds: "As long as I can have a laugh at work and enjoy what I'm doing, I'll be fine."

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