The timing for this post of ‘5Questions’ couldn’t be better really. Friday was the official first day of ‘Roux at the Landau‘, a restaurant Andrew Turner used to over see as Executive chef at The Langham Hotel in London. Now at Wiltons Restaurant, Mr Turner first really came to the attention of the catering media during his time at Browns Hotel with restaurant ‘1837’ and his trademark grazing menus in 1999. After four years at Browns, the Albert Roux protege moved to ‘1880’ at The Bentley taking his multi course grazing menu with him. Stints at Pennyhill Park & The Langham followed before moving to Wiltons restaurant last year.
As Executive chef of Wiltons, Mr Turner is charged with not only looking after the restaurant but also Wiltons ‘The Events’, the outside catering arm of the business & also training young apprentice chefs from various colleges.
We present to you Mr Andrew Turner’s ‘5Questions’.
1. What would be your best piece of advice for a fresh face school leaver who is obsessed with ‘Food Porn’ looking to get into the industry?
Food porn should always be put kept the top shelf out of kids reach. Start by teaching the school leavers that the most important decisions when considering the trade consist of building simple blocks of learning. The ingredients, seasonality, training, gaining experience, cooking techniques, marketing, the market place and kitchen management. The ability to know how to combine all of the afore mentioned to have a successful restaurant that has longevity. When all the experiences have been ticked its starts the journey of being able to create recipes that are unique and not copied element’s from different chefs cook books. The art of writing and creating new dishes belongs to so few chefs – what will be left for the future if we do not embrace the training and teaching and imparting of knowledge to the kids of today. Porn is sleazy but great food is about love and passion with the right balance.
Classic food is a popular today as any pop restaurant but unlike pop food it stands the test of time. The problem with young people is that they believe they have the knowledge to create anything or they have the drive to work at the very highest level of restaurant – but the student pays for this experience by working shifts that are totally unacceptable. Once they have this valuable experience they very rarely become successful – a case of burning out too early. A career should be built and not made in a day so that you can combine the passion which is cooking with the life that is family.
2. What qualities are you looking for in your more junior chefs when recruiting new staff?
They must be enthusiastic, keen, passionate and willing to learn – The greatest chef’s in my book are the humble one’s that earn respect rather than demand it. Often there are too many bullies that have control who are not chefs but thugs – treat people as you wish to be treated and you breed respect.
3. Would you recommend that staff do stages & how do people get to do a stage with you?
We always have stage’s at Wiltons – All they need to do is phone or email. Sharing recipes and experience is what the industry should encourage – you can not take the recipes to your grave.
I let my staff do stages and arrange them when we have quieter times – They learn new tricks and share the experience with the team and that experience always repays itself.
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?
We work normal shifts and we work very hard and fast. The chef has the opportunity to make the food complicated and time consuming – This is the path you go down to chase the stars and the glory but at the cost of staff. The trick is to find the right balance and have a business that is successful – When the restaurant is successful then the staffing levels are the correct percentage of the food revenue. If the percentage is out because the food is too complicated and costly then the equation can only be resolved by working the hours – a choice that needs to be measured.
5. Do you think that the media (in particular television) have raised the profile of the industry in a positive way?
Where would we be with out TV – I applaud all the chefs that have the opportunity to share food with the nation – How else do we get the young people of today to come into the trade. we just need to teach the new chefs that come into the trade via the TV that of course they will be able to have expensive cars, houses, clothes and world trips once they have gained all the relevant experience and achieved all the goals in question one – Then if they are lucky then the opportunity will come to them. Bring on Andrew Turner does around the world in 81 meals – Surely a new show for BBC 2?
Should you wish to contact Mr Turner for a stage or other employment opportunities, he can be found here ( he has moved from Wiltons to Hotel Cafe Royal, since this interview):
68 Regent Street
London W1B 4DY
Telephone +44 (0)20 7406 3333
Fax +44 (0)20 7406 3366
As ever, we’d like to thank Mr Turner for his time doing the ‘5Questions’, it’s much appreciated.