Many may not know the name Russell Brown but slowly he, along with his wife, has been climbing the culinary accoladed tree. Culminating in a Michelin star being awarded this year for their restaurant Sienna in Dorchester. Mr Brown does not have the typical heritage of a Michelin starred chef, he came to the industry at the age of 27 working his apprenticeship as a commis at the 2 rosette Alverton Manor. Eventually in 2003 via The Horn of Plenty in Devon, this husband & wife team opened the 15 seat Sienna in Dorchester. The accolades started to flood in, just 7 months after opening the AA awarded 2 rosettes, with the third following some 4 years later. The fabled Michelin star duly arrived in 2010.
So here it is, Russell Brown from Sienna’s Words of Advice.
You’ve got to look beyond the glamour; the chances of being the next Jamie Oliver are remote to say the least. This is a great industry but you do need real passion to succeed and I think enjoying the actual craft of what we do is vital. I try to teach chefs how every little job has an effect on the final plate of food, whether that’s picking the spinach or else scrubbing mussels.
I look for solid craft skills, a genuine interest in food and a good palate. If you make it to a working trial we will test to see how you season, whether you can multiply or divide a recipe to check your basic literacy and numeracy and whether you can do repetitive jobs such as making potato gnocchi to a consistent standard.
3. Would you recommend that staff do stages & how do people get to do a stage with you?
Definitely,it’s such a good way to experience a different kitchen and a different way of doing things. Martin and Al my two cdp’s have stages lined up at the Royal Oak at Parley, The Hand and Flowers and The Fat Duck. For us, taking people on a stage is difficult because the kitchen is so small. However we do try to sort something out, even if it is only for a day. The best bet is to email a request.
4. In light of the recent death of a young chef through excessive hours (on average 100+ per week, for multiple weeks – See our post), does the industry need to change & what changes have you made to reflect this in your own kitchens?
Long hours do tend to go with the job but this is excessive. Running my own business may mean I work these type of hours but I don’t expect my staff to. Gaining a Michelin star this year has made us much busier and as a result we
have taken on a second chef full time. I have also looked very carefully at the rotas and the menus to keep hours reasonable.
Overall I think the answer is yes. Some of the food programmes may be more of a game show for pure entertainment and as a result can be sensationalist but others are much more educational. A lot of the coverage is excellent and improves peoples food awareness and enjoyment, certainly we notice in the restaurant that customers are much more clued up than they used to be.
Obvious thanks go to Russell & his wife Elena for helping with this edition of the ‘5Questions’. Should you wish to find out more or visit The Browns, they can be found here;
Photography © www.richardbudd.co.uk