Commercial Manager, kff
I grew up in the great county of Devon, right on the North Devon coast, so I was surrounded by an abundance of great West Country products from an early age. Food was in my blood from day one, as I was born above my mum and dads grocery shop! My mum was a great cook, turning boring normal meals into great memories. My dad would prep and cook his own hams and I have vivid memories of watching him boning out sides of bacon using a piece of string, brilliant!
At secondary school I chose to do the Domestic Cookery course, which I thoroughly enjoyed and it further developed my passion for cooking good food!
Having attended Stratford-upon-Avon Technical College, I took my chefs exams and was lucky to be taught by some of the great old classic chefs. It was suggested that I did my initial training with British Transport Hotels, so they got me my first job, commis chef at the Manor House Hotel, Moretonhampstead (now the Bovey Castle Hotel). It was great being a part of a team and everyone seemed to know what they were doing…..apart from me!
So that’s where it all started, from there I worked in London at the Great Western Royal Hotel, then The Elms Hotel near Worcester. I then took up the position of Sous Chef at the Castle Hotel in Taunton, which took me to a completely different level! From there, I felt ready to head up my own brigade and moved to Kent for the first time to run the kitchen at Eastwell Manor Hotel, Ashford.
This was followed by another head chef post where I opened up the kitchens at Lucknam Park Hotel, near Bath. I finished my chef career by giving something back to the industry and became a college lecturer at Lancaster and Morecambe College, which I enjoyed for a couple of years, before switching career paths and getting involved in Foodservice.
So now, I can draw on my experiences when sourcing new products and looking at exciting food concepts, knowing if they will work well or not, on various menus, in all types of kitchens. I still have a strong passion for good food and quality products and working with a different team of like-minded people, means we can help deliver that passion and quality to our customers
Owner, The West House
After a previous career as a successful rock musician, Graham’s defection to cooking may be music’s loss but it is the food world’s gain.
He has worked for both Nico Ladenis and Richard Corrigan, as head chef of multiple restaurants. He has cooked for government and royalty, having been fortunate enough to cook at both 10 Downing Street, and also to cater a private dinner for the Her Majesty, the Queen of England.
The Garrett’s bought The West House in 2002, to create their own dining room, and allow Graham to pursue his own vision.
Graham’s food has gained the restaurant multiple awards. They have held a Michelin star since 2004, are featured in Harden’s top restaurants list in the UK, and hold 3 AA Rosettes. Graham has been awarded Best Chef in Kent in the Kent Life Awards. The West House is featured in the 2014 book ‘1001 Restaurants to Experience Before You Die’ (Cassell) and all other major guidebooks.
Graham’s reputation has afforded him many media opportunities, including among them prestigious television show Great British Menu and Ramsay’s Best Restaurant. However he is most likely to be found in his kitchen, creating wonderful food.
Head Chef, Thackerays
Born and bred in Kent Patrick started his career like most budding chefs washing pots at the local pub at the age of 15. At 18 Patrick went on to study at Westminster Catering College while working at Thackeray’s at the same time, not only honing his technical ability but also gaining invaluable vocational experience.
Patrick joined Thackeray’s as a commis back in January 2010 at 18 years of age under the guidance of Head Chef Chris Bower, quickly working his way up the ranks and after one year at Thackeray’s he went to sister restaurant The Hengist as Senior Chef de Partie. After 6 months he was promoted to Chef de Tornant of the group roaming around all four sites at the time. Patrick returned back to Thackeray’s full time in September 2011 when he was soon made Sous Chef in spring of 2012 at the age of 21, and was part of the team who won the Michelin star in the autumn. Working under Daniel Hatton for another 2 years as sous chef then departing in the summer of 2014 to further his experience. He landed his first head chef role later that year and honed his skills to then return back to Thackerays in Jan 2017 to head up the kitchen and back to his old stomping ground!
Executive Chef, The Northall, Corinthia Hotel, Whitehall Place, London
Ewan Simpson, The Executive Chef at the Northall Restaurant, at the Corinthia Hotel in London’s Whitehall Place, has been on the judging panel for Kent Young Chef for the past 3 years. He’s worked in three of London’s top landmark hotels, including Claridges as well as more recently being at Kent’s own Rowhill Grange near Swanley.
Ewan describes a number of personal influences which have shaped his career, but his passion started with his great grandfather’s career as a chef; then absorbing the skills and influences from his career mentors as well as having been inspired and influenced from a young age by Jamie Oliver’s passion for food and flavour.
During his career Ewan has achieved both the iconic Acorn award, celebrating the top 30 chefs under 30, as well as the highly acclaimed Academy of Culinary Arts, Award of Excellence. Ewan was one of the leading forces behind the London 2012 collaborative pop up restaurant with world renowned Chef Rene Redzepi of Noma, Copenhagen.
Ewan has a passion for local ingredients which is of course something at the core of the Kent Young Chef ethos.