Words of Advice, The Legends ~ Paul Heathcote, MBE

Our latest chef in our series of  ’5Questions~The Legends’ is Paul Heathcote.

Mr Heathcote trained at the Connaught & Le Manoir Aux Quat Saison, before heading back to his roots in the North West. He then open ‘Paul Heathcotes at Longridge‘ going on to achieve 2 Michelin stars in 1994. Realising that there was a requirement for a more casual type of dining offering. He went on to open firstly Simply Heathcotes then more latterly Gardo & The Olive Press restaurants.

Mr Heathcote has gathered many awards along the way in the  20 years since he opened his first restaurant including a MBE, two Cateys & a fellowship from John Moores University, Liverpool. Yet despite this, Tony Naylor of the Guardian decided to publish a completely unwarranted attack on Mr Heathcote, not long after Mr Heathcote tweeted:

the restaurant is 20yrs old this week …..wish it was me!

All we can say to Mr Naylor is:

Those that can – do, and those that can’t, write about it

We want to congratulate Mr Heathcote on 20 years of his restaurants, long may it continue.

1.How do you feel the industry has changed since you left working in the pressured environment of a multiple starred kitchen?

The industry has changed but top kitchens are still highly pressurised, perhaps not always in the same manic way, sous vide and techniques have taken out some of that immediate ‘a la minute’ cooking but the best restaurants have high demands.  One chef’s stress is another chef’s challenge irrespective of modern developments.

2.What advice would you give to any chefs reading this, who feel that they have what it takes to achieve Michelin stars & AA Rosettes?

Be prepared to give a lot, expect others to give as much but don’t be disappointed when they don’t and take the criticism but never take it personally.  Also, don’t try and achieve everything overnight, one little improvement every day, stars & rosettes are a Marathon not a sprint.

3.Do you have a different view towards the guide books now that you’re now not at the ‘coalface’, so to speak?

My view on the guide books are exactly the same as they have always been that they have their place and they help drive custom and help keep you on your toes and look for improvement.  Michelin for all the lack of explanation still remain consistent.  Of course, web based guides will become more and more important – I doubt that the present guides will be in the same format in five years.

4.Do you feel that cooking skills are being diminished with the growing use of equipment like waterbaths, sous-vide, pacojets & thermomixes?

No, they all keep us fresh and innovative however they don’t replace skill & taste; they are as good as the chef who uses them.

5.How do you feel that the industry could better prepare and service the needs of younger chefs entering catering?

Longer and more thorough inductions and appraisals; each business owner should survey their people to try and improve the restaurant or hotel.

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