The chef with no name 24 January 2020 How James Cochran lost the rights to his own name, and his triumphant comeback with Islington restaurant 12:51
In this week's issue... The chef with no name How James Cochran lost the rights to his own name, and his triumphant comeback with Islington restaurant 12:51
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Hotel Cateys 2019: Hotel Chef of the Year (more than 250 covers)

01 December 2019
Hotel Cateys 2019: Hotel Chef of the Year (more than 250 covers)

2019 winner: Simon Attridge, Gleneagles

Sponsored by Bidfood

Gleneagles is not just a world-renowned dining destination, but also one of the UK’s biggest hotel F&B operations. It runs three restaurants with a combined 650 covers, three bars, two cafés and an afternoon tea lounge, provides room service for 232 guest bedrooms, supplies 150,000 private dining covers a year across 10 event spaces, and caters for 1,000 employees in its staff restaurant.

In 2016, the hotel decided to renovate every F&B area and create new spaces. In August 2017 Simon Attridge came on board to oversee the colossal operation as executive chef. He became the heart of the project, developing new menus and liaising with the project teams, designers and architects.

The most recent renovation has been the 250-cover Strathearn fine dining restaurant. It has put old-school glamour back on the menu alongside the finest Scottish produce and guéridon service. New spaces include the Dormy casual clubhouse restaurant, which has two tandoor ovens and a stone pizza oven, and the Ochill House events wing, with its six private dining rooms and a demo kitchen.

The results have been astounding. The average food cheque rose by 9.2% in 2018, with food revenue growing by £505,000, and total F&B turnover hitting £21m. Attridge has also cut costs by £635,000 over the past two years through improved supply chain management.

Developing staff skills and engagement is key for Attridge. His ‘back to basics’ scheme has allowed chefs to learn or refamiliarise themselves with the fundamentals of cooking, prep and hygiene, while supplier visits build the team’s appreciation for provenance. A monthly ‘world cuisine day’ sees chefs take over the staff kitchen to recreate their national cuisines. Polish, Mexican, Italian, Spanish, Chinese and Maltese feasts have helped build an inclusive working environment and develop the leadership skills of junior staff.

Attridge has had to develop his own skills too, in particular in nutritional science for athletes competing in the Glasgow 2018 European Championships and elite golfers at the 2019 Solheim Cup.

His passion for nurturing talent and skills extends beyond the hotel. He offers kitchen tours to local school pupils and takes on 11 UK students on a year-long programme. Attridge’s achievements in an already iconic venue have been outstanding, taking the food operation to another level and inspiring a new chapter for Gleneagles.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

“Simon engages with all aspects of the hotel, front and back of house. A huge team focus and culture changes are at the forefront.”

Robert Bates, executive chef, the Belfry

“Running one of the UK’s most prestigious, beautiful and biggest kitchens must be daunting, but Simon and his team’s food are impressive.”

Chris King, executive chef, the Langham London

“Simon has completely changed and updated the food and is always consistent across all areas of the hotel.”

Chris Wheeler, executive chef, Stoke Park

THE SHORTLIST

  • Adam Ashe St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London
  • Simon Attridge Gleneagles, Auchterader, Perthshire
  • Johan Rox InterContinental London – the O2, London
  • Olivier Ruiz Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London

PAST WINNERS

  • 2018 Robert Bates, the Belfry, Sutton Coldfield
  • 2017 Chris King, the Langham, London
  • 2016 Chris Wheeler, Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire
  • 2015 Lewis Hamblet, South Lodge, West Sussex
  • 2014 James Murphy, Principal Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow
  • 2013 Ryan Neill, Cameron House on Loch Lomond
  • 2012 Nigel Boschetti, Grosvenor House, London
  • 2011 Martyn Nail, Claridge’s, London
  • 2010 Steve Munkley, Royal Garden hotel,

    London

  • 2009 Simon Young, Jumeirah Carlton Tower, London

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