An Interview with Phil Carmichael, Executive Chef at Berner’s Tavern Restaurant

Name: Phil Carmichael

Place of work: Berner’s Tavern Restaurant

Role: Executive Chef

How long have you been in this role: Two years, four months

Bio: Alongside Jason Atherton, Phil was part of the opening of Berner’s Tavern and is a current contestant on the Great British Menu. Having first worked with Jason in 2002, helping to launch Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, the two then partnered up again at the Pollen Street Social in 2011 before setting up this London hotel restaurant.

Follow him on Twitter: @cheebo77

What first made you go into the food sector?

It was down to a lack of other options really. I left school at 16 and I had been working in a little restaurant in my home town, Cowbridge, washing the dishes. Then my chef said look, do you want to start cooking and I said yes. I worked there for three years and made my way up from there.

What do you like most about working as a chef?

I would say the flexibility, and the creative side of things. It’s one of the very few jobs where you can go anywhere around the world and work. It’s not your run of the mill 9-5 office job, it’s exciting!

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

It all depends on what they want to do, if they want to be restaurant chefs then they need to go straight into a restaurant. I went to college but I never completed any sort of qualification so based on my own personal experience I found it more beneficial to go and work straight in a restaurant.

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

It’s a tough one because when I started it was a completely different industry. I would say don’t watch the clock or think about the pay, which is still relevant today as they’re the two things that everyone seems to be caring about at the moment. When I started you didn’t ask those questions, you just got on with it, so that would be my advice, to not treat it as a job as it’s what you want to be doing. Therefore, you shouldn’t be worried about how long it takes you to do things or how much you earn. The first 12 years of my career I didn’t even question how much I was getting paid, I didn’t care either, because as long as I had enough to live that was fine. I didn’t care about how many hours I was working either as I wanted to learn and I wanted to grow, to be the best chef that I could possibly be. Make sure you’re going into the job for the right reasons and not to think that you’ll be on the TV in two or three years and own a successful restaurant in five years.

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

I would probably move to London a bit earlier than I did, but that’s only really a minor thing. I moved there when I was 25/26 but having said that I’m in a good position now, it’s all worked out and I’m quite happy with how my career is going. So for that reason I wouldn’t change anything drastically.

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

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