Name: Saul Stevens
Pub Company: Old School Bar & Kitchen
Job title: Head Chef
Tell us about your career path:
I started my career in Redruth, as a commis chef in a traditional pub called Trickies. I looked after the starters and whatever else was required of me – the memory of prepping mussels will stay with me for a long time! From there, I moved around Cornwall doing similar roles and learning as much as I could.
Following that, I moved to Malvern and worked across three food lead pubs – it was really interesting. In the Midlands you eat meat and in Cornwall, you eat lots of fish. I gained a whole new skill set, just from a change in geography.
I returned to Cornwall and took my first Sous Chef position in a hotel/pub in Perranporth. This was a real landmark for me, as the Head Chef taught me a lot of the methods that I still use today. After the Head Chef left, I was given his position and I started to really develop my own style of cooking. I also became wiser about the day-to-day admin, improving my knowledge of the more practical side of running the kitchen, with special attention to the accounts!
After 2 years there, I was given the position of Head Chef at a 5 star, luxury resort in Portreath and remained in that role for 3 years. As I got more confident in what I was doing and how I wanted to be doing it, my cooking progressed and I started taking on new challenges, including events. I now work at the Old School Bar and Kitchen where I have found the perfect balance of everything I like to do, making high quality food in a pub environment.
What is a typical day in your role like?
I start each day by checking the new stock arrivals and keeping on top of the stock rotation. We make new orders daily, so ensuring the kitchen is well organised is hugely important to its smooth running – especially when you’re working with such fresh produce like us.
My team and I then begin the prep for the lunch and dinner services. I’ll also design the specials for the week, as well as meeting with staff about any upcoming events and writing menus accordingly. Throughout the day I will ensure we all maintain a very high level of hygiene and finish by ordering stock for the next day.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your role?
The people I work with play a hugely important part in my role, both personally and professionally – I work with some great people and enjoy spending my days with them. That and being creative, I didn’t expect to have such scope for the imagination in my career.
What do you love about being a pub chef?
The relationships that grow out of working in a small team and the good, honest, simple food we produce.
If you could give one good reason why a young person should become a pub chef what would it be?
Working in a pub is great, it’s like having another family. You become close and spend a lot of time together, it is a great space to learn to communicate with each other effectively and efficiently. I like being able to share creative ideas and watch them improve as everyone has their input. We all learn something new every day from one another and it’s a great thing to be apart of.
What do you think the sector has to offer young people?
Endless possibilities. You don’t just learn about food, you learn about cellar work, bar work, team work, accounting, management – there are so many different aspects to the industry. The people you work with become family, it’s a great environment to see ideas and energy thrive – and you probably see them more than your actual family!
What are the most important skills that a young person needs to have to succeed as a pub chef?
Passion, hard work and a good mental attitude – these core skills are the basis for anyone who wants to succeed in this industry.
What are your career plans for the future?
To continue creating new exciting dishes and to push OSBK to become one of the best places to eat in Cornwall. It’s a young business and the possibilities are endless.