We are so proud of our client Peach Pubs who have stormed ahead of lots of competition to take the title of Britain’s Best Brigade. This is quite a title and testimony to the true camaraderie the team at the Rose and Crown Pub, Warwick demonstrated in their entry.
The dedicated team of 7 represented the UK pub sector within the competition, going head to head against a number of other organisations including restaurants, Schools, Hotels, Universities, Colleges and more.
The reward gives a huge nod to the team’s spirit, camaraderie and their passion and skill for great cooking. What was evident from this winning team’s entry video was their passion for the Peach Pubs company and how important each team member is to the end result. Peach Pubs are an excellent example of how truly investing in your team, training and of course recruiting the right staff achieves great results – not only for themselves but for their clientele who clearly relish in the fun, togetherness and hard work that the team successfully employ. Peach Pubs are very much about learning on the job and promoting from within which attracts passionate, engaged people.
To celebrate their reward, we interviewed their Head Chef, Leon to give further insight into how The Rose and Crown operates like a wonderfully, well oiled machine.
1. What inspired you to be a Chef?
I kind of fell in to the Cheffing world as a 16 year old hard grafter! I have always worked hard and have learnt a lot from my old and very inspirational head chef Mark. I soon learnt a good Head Chef has respect. I pretty much wanted to replicate him (Mark) and his cooking skills and abilities.
2. How did you make your way up the Chef ladder?
I began working as a Kitchen Porter and progressed to Commis Chef within 6 months, working a section whenever I could. A few years passed and soon I started running shifts as a Sous Chef – this was fairly early in my career but I was thrown into it. Then from the age of 20 I started to run kitchens, again quite young but I focussed on cooking dishes that I knew; and added to my learning through books and programmes every spare second. I soon realised I needed to step back and fine tune my skills from further teaching which I pursued. I then took a Junior Sous Chef role to enable this, learnt more skills and grew in confidence. This resulted in a move up again to Sous and finally again Head Chef. At this stage, I knew I was ready for it with 5 years experience under my belt.
3. What are the top 3 attributes required to be a successful Chef?
A stressed chef is never as productive or approachable as a calm chef, so its important to be good under pressure. As a Head Chef you're there to guide your team through their work life, and I feel I'm a strong father figure to the guys. Most importantly, you have to be able to accept criticism - without listening and learning from it, you'll never improve your food.
4. What are the best things to practice as an aspiring Chef?
Practice everything you are afraid of cooking. Just do it and learn from it. Early in my career, I would stay away from something because I didn't know how, but as I grew in confidence, I realised it was fine to have a go, even if it didn't always turn out perfectly! You learn the most from your mistakes.
5. What advice would you give yourself if you were starting again?
If I were to start again I would favour a kitchen and company that wanted to teach me over early promotion. Spend your early years learning from a chef you respect and admire, and stay put. Then, when you're ready to take the next step, get some experience in a big city, or another country.
6. What’s your favourite career moment?
My favourite Career Moment is probably looking at the success of my junior team over the years. I'm proud to think I've made a difference to the young chefs I've worked with, and love to teach, and its a great feeling to see them grow and be promoted.
7. What is your signature dish?
My family would say baked white chocolate and baileys cheesecake, but I would say Apple glazed Pigs cheeks, scallops and crackling salad.
8. What is happening next with your team?
My apprentice is just finishing her level 3 and is gaining in strength in each section. My CDP is going to start running a service, which is a great achievement. He has become an inspirational figure and an integral part of my team. 2 years ago he would barley make it through service, so he's come a long way! I have a new Breakfast Chef who is learning fast - he's like a sponge, and absorbs everything we throw at him. I also have two sous chefs , and I'm looking to push them both towards head chef level in the near future.
We're always looking to take on new chefs. We have such a huge variety of pubs. offer great training, and are excellent at promoting from within. Of our 18 pubs, 11 of our Head Chefs joined us at a junior level (myself included), which is something we're all really proud of.
When hiring, I look for personality. I can teach them how to cook. If they have the right mind set and passion for the industry, they will have a lot of my attention.