Essentially Catering | The Tool Shed
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Post by Chris Holland
Our Chef Director Chris Holland worked as Head Chef at the prestigious Alderley Edge hotel before joining us. He has a passion for using the best produce and never compromises on quality. Author of our best selling book Sous Vide The Art of Precision Cooking, Chris is a expert on the sous vide technique.During the later part of my school days at Wardle High School Rochdale I always wanted to be a chef . I knew from the very start that my path to work was never going to be academic it was always going to be something practical and hands on.
As a young boy growing up I was inspired to cook with my Grandma who was and still is an inspiration to me . I have memories of helping make the cakes that she always had made for visitors and family alike . She made the most amazing cakes and I loved nothing more than eating the sweet raw cake batter straight from the bowl . We used to fight over who got to lick the bowl/spoon after the cakes were made. My grandma’s philosophy for cooking even on a shoe string budget was always to use fresh and seasonal ingredients either home grown or bought from the market.
School was somewhat of a drag for me as I was itching to learn to become a chef.
I started at Hopwood Hall college as a chef and instantly fell in love with it .To me it was the only real time I excelled in something and this inspired me to really get my head down and put in the hard work. College was the first time I really excelled in something and gave me the opportunity to laugh at the teachers who said I would never make something of my life!!!!
During the three years at college I also took on a part time position in a local hotel working the bar and restaurant first and then the kitchen. These were great days and gave me the opportunity to see how the industry ticks. I learnt a lot from those days both good and bad !! But I have to say I was itching to work only in the kitchen but it was a good insight into the catering world .
After completing college I moved away from Rochdale for a full time roll at one of Cheshire’s most talked about Hotel restaurants The Stanneylands Hotel. This was the school of hard knocks for me as I quickly realised that although excelling at college meant nothing in “The Real World”.
I loved every minute of the 18 hour days 6 days a week on minimum wage . Although difficult I feel that without this grounding I wouldn’t have achieved what I have today. After 18 months of hard graft I left Stanneylands and went with the Head chef to open a fine dining restaurant at Mere Golf and Country Club. The opportunity to work alongside Matthew Barrett was too good to turn down. I learnt so much from the ex-Ritz chef and working in a much slower paced role helped me develop a much better understanding of how to organise and run a kitchen. We were a very small team and teamwork was and still is the only way to go for me.
After 2 years at Mere I got the opportunity to go into The Alderley Edge Hotel as Junior Souschef. The Early days at the Edge were all about learning new styles of cuising which is invaluable in any role as a chef. I got the opportunity to grow and learn all aspects of every section which was inspiring . I was offered the opportunity at the age of 29 (2004) to take the role of head chef. For me this was when I really started to develop my own style of food.
After 9 years at the top winning Cheshire restaurant of the year , Chef of the Year and appearing on GBM amongst many highlights including cooking for many celebrities and famous people I decided to move on into development with Sousvidetools.
The main inspiration for this was to train and educate people . I always had a great passion for education but could never really see myself at a college . The job is super rewarding and I am proud to say we have become the leading light in sous-vide education in the UK . This is something I am very proud of . Food is my biggest passion and this is what keeps me interested the most . I love to travel and try out other countries cuisines. I am constantly inspired by ingredients and the pursuit of getting the best out of them without destroying their natural flavour .It is super important to me to continue to try and be at the forefront of the food scene this is what inspire me and the team to keep driving forward .
Technology is now widely used in the industry and I am super proud to say we have been a big part of spreading that message.
I am very lucky to be in the position I am and the drive to constantly improve our training and links to the next generation of young budding hospitality chefs.
TI feel that my experience over the last 25 years really enables me to get close and educate the “next generation” of chefs .
The industry which I love is really struggling to bring through new recruits and if I can help that process I will be immensely proud.
The food seen in the Uk has improved dramatically over the last ten years and I feel this will continue with the correct education. What happens next only fate will tell us...
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