An Interview with Andrew Birch, Head Chef at the Fishmore Hall Hotel

Name: Andrew Birch

Place of work: Fishmore Hall Hotel

Role: Head Chef

How long have you been in this role: 18 months

Bio: Andrew is thoroughly enjoying his time working as head chef at Fishmore Hall Hotel. He previously worked as a senior sous chef at the 3AA Rosette and Michelin-starred Montague Arms in Hampshire. Andrew is also competing in The Great British Menu 2016.

Follow him on Twitter: @andrewbirchchef

What first made you go into the food sector?

I’ve always enjoyed all food and to date haven’t found anything other than peanut butter that I dislike. I knew from an early age that I would have to do something physical for a job because my grades in school weren’t that great so the two things just fell together!

What do you like most about working as a chef?

I like the structure to the job, but also the freedom. It’s hard to explain but I love the hours, I could never work 9 to 5. I love how a small team of people can work together and get through a busy day and have happy customers at the end, it gives me a buzz!

Do you think there is too much emphasis for chefs to go straight into a restaurant?

If I ever get students in on work experience or people coming in for an interview unsure of what they want to do I always tell them they should go somewhere like Le Manoir, Wheatley Manor or Gidleigh Park, one of the great hotels outside of London. While there they can learn all sectors of the kitchen from breakfast, to room service, to afternoon tea, while at the restaurant. I believe working in a hotel adds more value to a CV and makes you a stronger chef.

Do you believe that students are encouraged enough to consider a career in catering?

I don’t think the issue lies with not enough chefs coming through at an early age into the industry. I just think that when they get started they don’t understand how hard it is going to be, I think that cooking shows on TV glorify the industry and make it look like something that it isn’t.

What would you advise for someone looking to follow in your footsteps?

I wouldn’t want anybody to follow in my footsteps. People should live their own lives, achieve great things on their own and make mistakes on their own. Experience is what moulds people and it has made me the person I am today.

If you could go back and do anything differently would you?

It’s very easy to say if I could go back I would work at this 3 star, in this country, under that chef, but that’s just crazy! I think my path has had lots of ups and downs. I met my wife in one of the worst places I’ve ever worked in and if it wasn’t for that place we wouldn’t have met and now we have a little one, I couldn’t be happier! No one can predict the future and they should take the path that feels right to them at that time, but if there is somebody who understands the industry and has worked to a high level a little guidance from that person is also a great thing.

*Post originally published by myself for the website theperfectstarter.com

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