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My name is Peter Pearson. I have worked in professional kitchens for 30 years and in that time I have learned to cook, very well. Cooking is not something I ever thought I'd end up doing. I never dreamed of being a chef when I was young, however, looking back, I did spend lots of time in the kitchen when my Grandmother was cooking, so perhaps it is inevitable that I ended up cooking for a profession.
My grandmother cooked on an old wood fired Rayburn. Every day she would get up and set the fire. It was a grand old thing, dark cream in colour, with two ovens, a hot one and a cooler one, and she cooked almost every thing we ate in that Rayburn. She was a genius. There was no temperature control. The top of it was solid with an oval section in the centre that would get hottest. I can remember her juggling the saucepans around when she wanted to turn them down from boil to simmer. Little did I know that I would end up using the same principle in the professional kitchen whilst cooking on a solid top gas stove.
My first experience of a professional kitchen was at a hotel in Woolacombe, North Devon, where I started as a lowly kitchen porter. It was a busy hotel and being the youngest of the kitchen staff it was, as you may expect, my duty to do the dirty jobs. Rank has its privilege you know. So every morning I would get up and be greeted by the site of thirty odd large trays that had been used for cooking bacon, a large pot that had (usually) a burnt bottom of baked beans to be scraped off, numerous large pans that had been used to fry eggs and a host of dirty plates, cutlery, cups and saucers that all had to be cleaned and put away ready for the lunchtime service.
I did this job for a season, towards the end of which the chefs would, sensing some talent in me, let me help them chop and prepare vegetables. They, along with my Mother, encouraged me to pursue a career in cooking. Once the season was over I managed to get myself a job as a commis chef in a small local Italian restaurant in Braunton, North Devon, where I would prepare starters and generally be the kitchen dogsbody. It did, though, give me my first insight into the catering trade. I decided that if I wanted to be serious about cooking, I would need to get some serious training so I enrolled in Barnstaple College to take the City & Guilds professional chef courses, 706-1 and 706-2. Unfortunately, the restaurant wouldn't let me have the day off in the week I needed to go to college so I found another job that would: Hewitts hotel in Lynton, North Devon. This is where I really started to learn to cook, under the tutelage of Head Chef, David Lamprell. This was my first exposure to the new styles of British cooking that were coming out in the mid 80s.
After working at Hewitts Hotel I then moved to the Rising Sun in Lynmouth before moving up to London.
In London I worked at the Grafton Hotel, which was an enormous eye opener. Going from a North Devon hotel to a very busy London hotel was, to a great extent, jumping in at the deep end. After a sudden family bereavement, I had to leave London and return to North Devon. I continued my training by moving on to the Bear Hotel, Woodstock. Getting the itch to return to London I then moved to the Harewood Hotel, Marylebone (now a travelodge).
I have worked at the Footstool in Smith Square when it was a Digby Trout Resaurant, for Restaurant Associates at their Freshfields, Bruckhause and Deringer unit and at 166 High Holborn which used to the the Restaurant Associates UK Head Office (now also a Travelodge) before joining Mitie Catering (now Gather and Gather) in 2004.
I was placed at Osborne Clarke and provided them with first class hospitality for nearly eleven years. During that time I raised the standard of food and completely satisfied my client, providing client lunches, formal dinners, canapés and finger food and hot and cold buffets for up to 150 people.
I am currently working for Catering Academy as Chef/Manager but am seeking a new role as a head chef in Newcastle. Please see my Qualifications & CV page for more info