John Williams, executive chef of the Ritz and chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts (RACA), says the industry must back British ingredients and young chefs to play its part in creating a sustainable food and staffing supply chain for the future.
He was speaking to RACA president Brian Turner as part of an exclusive video series for The Caterer to mark the Academy's 40th anniversary in 2020.
"Now more than ever, with what's gone on and Brexit, I think we should be backing Britain in every sense of the word," he said. "We've got to push farmers to produce even more for us so that we become more and more sustainable. There's nothing better than British products at its best. I never touch fish from anywhere other than around our island. Our meat is some of the finest. Our asparagus, broad beans and peas – there's nothing like it."
Williams called on the industry to work together to continue the development and training of young people seen over the past 30 years.
"The best staff I have, Deepak Mallya and Spencer Metzger, have done apprenticeships and they're numbers two and three in my kitchen," he said. "That's how we teach people. We've got a very large kitchen and all of my apprentices go to every single area. By god they can cook afterwards. It's very important for us to work together, do more training for youngsters, keep developing them, so they're better than we were."
Turner said there's no better way for a young chef to learn than an apprenticeship: "Even in the far corner, you can see how John Williams approaches people, smells, tastes. For me that's got to be great for the sustainability of our industry."