“I was pretty young, maybe 13/14 when I realised being a Chef was something I wanted to pursue. Food always seemed to be a huge part of my upbringing; from being on holiday in greece, seeing family in montenegro or even just getting home from school there would always be some interesting food on the table. Food is and was a passion of my mums, and being surrounded by good food and fun times because of the meals I had at a young age, as she was by her father, must of rubbed off on me as it is now the exact thing my friends know me for; getting a bit boozy and cooking them a lovely bit dinner.
Now this is probably the exact moment that I realised I was going to make this my profession; my mum walked in with a little box after going for a meal with friends; it said Le Manoir on top. She then opened it and gave me what was inside one salted caramel truffle which was a petit four given to all of them after the meal but decided to save hers for me. It baffled me at first it was so bitter because of the coco covered outside but then balanced so well after you hit caramel with the salty crunch of the crystals of Fleur de sel. That summer I started emailing restaurants for work experience.”
“During that summer just before starting my A levels I sent off loads of emails to all the top Michelin star restaurants in the country probably quite naively asking for work experience; Le manoir being one, Royal hospital road, le Gavrosh and many more. After about a month of waiting with no replies I got an email from the HR department at Le Manoir saying to come in on a Sunday with a list of items I needed (a hat, chef whites and shoes) so I went out and bought what was required. This is quite uncommon in a restaurant of this calibre as its not thought to be worth it as my presence could force mistakes to happen but RB (Raymond Blanc) had an amazing ethos and a huge heart making sure they taught what they new to me. Spirits were high once my day ended and I just plainly asked if I could come back the week after and they said “Yes of course”. This then continued for around 6 months ’til I finally plucked up the courage to ask for an apprenteship which I actually got. So I dropped my A levels and went to find a flat.
After the honeymoon period my naivety woreoff when they started moulding me as a chef. It’s a very aggressive and intense atmosphere, a lot of threatening, burning and manipulative tactics are used to make sure you don’t repeatedly make mistakes, but only if you’re a willing participant who’ll give your all. You could almost cry on a lot of shifts; people would be walking out on a daily basis and it was the hardest thing I have done to date, but coming out the other side and looking back I love them for the career and strength they’ve given me.”
“When I left Le manoir I was disillusioned whether or not I wanted to stay working as a chef due to the all consuming nature of the job and the general day to day torment, so I booked a ticket to Banff in Canada to go do a ski season. After a few months of getting to know people in the town I found a little group of English, Canadian and New Zealand guys who all had a similar taste in music and all thought the music in Banff was shit so we spoke to one of the 3 clubs in town and started holding a Thursday night. It did OK, but was mainly just a laugh to do between us anyway.
During that season I got arrested and given 40 hours community service for a very very minor crime and opted to work with a group called Banff life cooking in the winter for people on low income which just ended up being the skiers like me; so It was pretty fun. As the seasons changed we thought about doing a BBQ in the park, which then lead to a party in the Park with help from the club owner; which I continued to do even though my community service had finished. At the end of that summer I moved back to London to live with my brother, a good school friend who runs a stall on Berwick St called Dukes Cupboard, and his Bristol geezer mate. All being into music we spent a lot of time listening to a wide range of stuff but would find ourselves putting on Sox when we were really gone at a party. With my brothers birthday approaching I spoke about the Idea of doing a night and started working on it with a couple friends so we got in touch with Sox and booked him, at this time he wasn’t yet signed to BBK but Jammer was really interested in him so he came by and jumped on the set with him. A few other friends pulled in favours to fill the line up like TROPPIKA, CHECAN and OH91 who didn’t even get a chance to play after Jammer threw a paddy and the whole thing got shut down.
After a year or so working around music I realised that I want to keep it as a very significant part of my life but found cooking was still my primary passion. My dream one day would be to have a music venue with amazing food; basically like Ronnie Scott’s, but for our generation.”
“I don’t really get a lot of free time, but when I do get let out it ends up usually being boozy and mischievous, the main things I immerse myself in is hitting parties, vibsing to music and a bit of casual graffit. I painted a phallus on Jason Derulo’s mural right in front of him in Waterloo and it went viral on world star; that’s pretty much how I spend my free time. I’m also starting to do a bit of foraging now, pretty amazing what can be found in London.”
“Right now i’m just staying focused. It’s a long slog being a chef. You cant really expect anything to come too quick. My only plan is to try working in a new restaurant every year, and working hard, although a little cooking show did pop up in conversation with Vas Blackwood from Lock Stock, so lets see if we can put that together for a little series in the near future. Not too sure my style of cooking fits his Jamaican roots, but it could be interesting.”
Vol. 2 – BNTL Presents: Panik (ATG)
Vol. 1 – BNTL Presents: Shy One (DVA)
Photo’s by Tom Spellman