Name: Aidan McGee
Pub Company: The Truscott Arms
Job title: Head Chef
Tell us about your career path:
I started out work as a baran in a few local pubs in Ireland and then went on to run a nightclub and three bars. I liked the industry, but knew I hadn’t quite found my career path and so set about looking for a new challenge.
I started helping out a friend in his kitchen, and that’s how I found cooking – I loved it and never looked back.
After that, I went to college to qualify as a chef at a tourism college in Ireland, where I studied full time for two years. When I completed my training, I got a job in a hotel in Knightsbridge where I stayed for over six years and undertook some amazing projects, such as opening high profile restaurants like, Dinner by Heston Blumental at the Manadrin Oriental.
I went on to become Sous Chef at Launceston Place where I was part of the team that earned the restaurant a Michelin Star and the Four Rosette accolade.
My next appointment came through a recruitment agency. They contacted me about the Truscott Arms and set up a meeting between the owners and me. I started there in September 2014 and am still here today.
What is a typical day in your role?
A big part of my role is supervisory. I walk around the kitchen talking to the staff, check any issues, check the fridges and look at all invoices and emails – generally make sure everything in the back office is in order so my staff can perform their roles effectively. After I put through the orders for the next day, I can finally get into the kitchen and get cooking.
In between the lunch and dinner service, I have a chance to look at our menus and the specials. The specials on the Bar Food menu change daily, so it’s fun playing around with those smaller dishes. The rest of the bar food menu changes monthly – there are some classics that we could never take off though! I think our customers would have something to say if we ever removed our fish and chips. The restaurant menu changes a lot from week to week and develops throughout the seasons depending on the produce available and what ingredients are in season.
Most enjoyable aspect of your role?
I really enjoy seeing the positive influence I can have on my team, especially the younger members. Its incredibly satisfying guiding and mentoring people and seeing them take advice on board and succeed. We rely heavily on teamwork in the kitchen, so everyone is very close; we all know inherently that listening to and respecting one another is key to a successful, efficient workplace. I’m very luck to have such a hardworking, proactive team, who take real pride in what they do.
What do you love about being a pub chef?
It’s an exciting time to be in the industry, the pub food offering is incredibly high already and has the opportunity to go so much further. I can put my knowledge and my experience into creating some really exciting dishes that haven’t been done before.
If you could give one good reason why a young person should become a pub chef what would it be?
Pubs are a great place to start, generally the kitchens are smaller, which means there is a lot of support for new members of the team when they start out. In turn, it also means progression can also be quicker, if you have the skills, the understanding and the drive to learn. Pub kitchens can also give you a great basic understanding of the industry – you learn about the day to day running of a pub as well, which leaves the door open if you’d like to give front of house a go, as well as transferable skills that can be used in restaurants, for events and other catering businesses.
What do you think the sector has to offer young people, in terms of career progression/ Social environment / Variety in tasks / Skills & development
The sector has a lot to offer young people, but I don’t think we sell ourselves as well as we could. There are some great new initiatives that are starting up, like sending trainee chefs to college for a day a week, but there’s a long way to go. At the Truscott Arms we have a kitchen to suit all levels and there is a wide range of skills to be learnt – everything from the basics of cutting chips, to butchering a rabbit – the diversity of skills that young people can take away with them, is something I’m really proud of.
What are the most important skills that a young person needs to have to succeed in the job
Don’t think of it as a job, think of it as a career. Each day in the kitchen is what you make it and to get the most out of being a pub chef you have to work really hard – but the pay off is worth it! Personally, I’ve also found that a good understanding of knife skills has been incredibly useful and I always remind my team of the importance of perfecting the basic skills.
What are your career plans for the future?
To be better every day! To keep pushing myself and be proactive in everything I do. I want to work with people who can learn from me and I can learn from, young people who want to move forward, who have a positive attitude and aren’t afraid of a challenge. I’ve become more and more wise to the importance of the teamwork, when people aren’t willing to listen and are in the business solely for personal gain, it really stands out and has a hugely negative impact.
Pub Chef Passion organised this blog post, in partnership with The Truscott Arms. For more information about the pub, please visit: http://www.thetruscottarms.com
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