“There are so many amazing pubs in this country producing amazing food”, said Aaron Mullis, Head Chef of Tom Kerridge’s two-Michelin star pub, the Hand and Flowers in Marlow.
Aaron firmly believes, that a chef who produces a top quality menu and captivating dishes deserves recognition, whether that be a pub or restaurant chef. Aaron explained that through a clearly mapped out career path, young people who exercise steely determination and have the ability to listen and absorb kitchen knowledge, can become award-winning chefs.
Currently, Aaron leads an award-winning team of sixteen chefs, who serve 80 for lunch and 80 for dinner each day. With two-Michelin stars, and a year waiting list for a weekend booking, this is no easy task!
The 32-year-old Head Chef started his career by gaining an NVQ at the age of 15, which included day release to a kitchen. He said, “I think it’s important for young chefs to go to college and learn the real basic kitchen skills, like how to handle a knife. When you go into a professional kitchen you won’t fillet a fish straight away, instead you will be working on the garnish. It is also important to see the day-to-day running of the industry, whilst doing day release as a student. It gives you an opportunity to learn the harsh realities of the industry and that it is hard to make it to the top.”
Aaron explained that, “the reality is that you have to work hard days in a hot kitchen, and you get cut. But you do it, and look past it, because you love food.”
Following Aaron’s graduation from college, he placed his first foot on the career ladder as a Commis Chef. He stressed the importance for young people to find a kitchen that is right for them to grow in, as kitchens can dramatically vary from chilled out to militant environments.
“After working in a couple of other restaurants, I came and ate at Tom’s Hand and Flowers, and I fell in love with the food. I got a job as a Demi Chef de Partie, working on the garnish”
“I learnt everything that I know from Tom, as back in the day, there was just five of us in the kitchen. We were a tight team, and it was important for me at the stage to learn as much as I could.”
As a Head Chef, Aaron’s role encompasses training junior members of the team, up to the two-Michelin star standard, he said: “our kitchen is extremely busy. Young chefs learn from the knowledge of our more experienced chefs, the skills filter down and we all learn from each other. We are like a family in the kitchen, as we are together for all day.”
Producing a two-Michelin starred menu and nurturing staff to ensure that they have a successful career, the Hand and Flowers dispels myths about the career prospects of a pub chef.
Pub Chef Passion visited the Hand and Flowers to meet the award-winning chefs. Keep your eyes peeled on the blog for the next Pub Chef Passion meets the Hand and Flowers interview.
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