The executive chef of the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City in Ghana, has helped introduce luxury dining to the country
Your experience of working overseas stretches back nearly 30 years. What first inspired you to go abroad?
During my City and Guilds studies in catering, at what is now Northumbria University, my senior lecturer encouraged me to move to Europe for work. Instead, I applied for a job in Brisbane, working for the Southern Pacific Hotel Corporation. So at 18, I set off to Australia as a commis chef.
What are the key responsibilities in your current role?
Can you describe the style and setting of the hotel?
The Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City is the only five-star luxury hotel in Accra. It is close to the State House, the Accra International Conference Centre and the National Theatre. As well as five restaurants and bars, it will have the largest spa in West Africa when it opens later this year.
What are the biggest challenges?
Consistency - not only in the quality of the products, but also in food presentation and taste.
How developed is the luxury hotel market in Accra?
We are the only luxury hotel operator in this part of Africa. It took quite a while to be accepted in the market. However, there is now a demand for luxurious service and cuisine, and we are happy to lead the way in offering this.
Are there any other British hospitality staff in the city? At the moment I am the only English chef, but I do hope that others will take on the challenges of working in Accra.
What do you like about living and working in Ghana?
I love the feeling of being safe, for both myself and my family. I can walk to work in the morning and I will be greeted with a smile and a good morning from the locals. Eating in the local restaurants is great fun. Everyone is happy to see you, as most of the time, I am the only foreigner. Sampling the cuisine is an adventure.
It can be frustrating not being able to do things at the speed they would happen in the UK. Patience is necessary to survive in this part of the world.
Of the many countries you have worked in, which have provided the highlights and which have been the most challenging? The highlight was working in Bali, in Indonesia, because of the amazing products. Malawi was where I trained kids from a local school to be chefs, and some have gone on to become head chefs, which is a great feeling. The most challenging was in Nigeria - the teams were great, but getting good- quality products was difficult.
How easy is it to move to a new country and immerse yourself in a new culture for each job? When I started, moving was challenging - to leave one culture behind and start again with another. However, with the support of my wife and family, it got easier, and now, we don't bat an eyelid. When I came here from Lagos, I left there on Sunday evening, flew here on Monday and started work immediately.
Where else in the world would you like to work?
My dream is South America or the Caribbean. The thought of playing with the ingredients there and being part of a different culture would be amazing.
What do you miss most about the UK and would you ever return? Coming from the north of England, I miss the purity of the mountain air, the trout fishing and dining in small pubs. But I'm unsure if there would be a job back there for me now.
- 2016-present Executive chef, Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City, Accra, Ghana
- 2013-2016 Executive chef, Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, Nigeria
- 2011-2013 Executive chef, InterContinental hotel, Lusaka, Zambia
- 2009-2011 Owner, By the Bay Catering, Sydney, Australia
- 2008-2009 Executive chef, Westin Chosun, Seoul, South Korea
- 2006- 2008 Executive chef, Le Meridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort, Bali, Indonesia
- 2004-2006 Executive chef, the Imperial hotel (Luxury Collection), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- 2002-2004 Executive chef, MÁ¶venpick hotel, Kuwait
- 2001-2002 Cluster executive chef, Le Meridien, Malawi, south-east Africa