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Top chefs and their recipes for success

There are no ‘sacrifices’ in this business because these Michelin Star chefs love what they do, says Ayesha Banerjee.

education Updated: Sep 24, 2013 15:10 IST
Ayesha Banerjee

Alyn Williams


After working as head chef at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley in London, Alyn Williams took over the Westbury in Mayfair in 2011 and won a Michelin star. He is at the moment very enthusiastic about his role as chef/patron of Alyn Williams at the Westbury

I was always into food, even as a child. My father is a very good cook. He taught us how to eat well. I can remember after my first day in a kitchen knowing that I would never do anything but cook.

Passion happens when you find something that you love to do. After a while it consumes and dictates everything that you do. I have a family now so they also share my time. Before that I read about food, dreamt about food and ate food as both a joy and an education… As a chef at the level that I work you make a lot of personal sacrifices. I rarely spend time socialising, I’m not at home enough with my family. I also sacrifice a good night’s sleep.

The time I give to my work is usually around 16 hours a day, six days a week (I spend Saturday mornings and Sundays with my family). In order to stay ahead of the competition I do a lot of reading and eating out when I can.

Where my personal style is concerned, it’s rooted in French cuisine but I am now using some modern techniques and a lot of very good British ingredients.

Slice of advice: Don’t give up when the going gets tough. Look at the tough times as challenges to overcome

Frances Atkins

Frances Atkins has started up and run six restaurants, including a hotel in Scotland. In 1997, she took over the Yorke Arms, a restaurant with rooms in the picturesque village of Ramsgill-in-Nidderdale, Yorkshire, as co-owner. Frances has made many appearances on television including: Masterchef, The Trip with Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, a television sitcom series first broadcast on BBC Two and BBC HD in the UK.On the radio, Frances has featured on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio York and Capital Radio, London. She has been a Michelin Star awardee every consecutive year since 2003 and one of only six females in the UK to be awarded a Michelin Star

There was never a realisation for me about cooking. it was something I enjoyed doing as a child and it became a medium in which to channel my creative passions.

I didn’t set goals for my career as there was no need to do so. I enjoyed what I was doing and one naturally strives to improve through dedication and discipline.

I consider my self as fortunate to have always found my work all-consuming! All my time is given to my work. I believe I excel in my profession because I keep my style fresh because of the natural stimulation of discovering different influences.

Slice of advice: Enjoy your subject and strive all the time to improve

Laurie Gear

Co-owner and head chef of well known UK restaurant Artichoke, head chef Laurie Gear’s love for food began at 14, working in a fish restaurant . He has been head chef to Pinewood Film Studios and has further honed his culinary skills at Sally Clarkes, Fat Duck and Gordon Ramsay, Hospital Road, London

There was a moment in my life when I realised I gained huge enjoyment from seeing wonderful ingredients turn into beautiful creations both in the raw as well as after cooking, when love and attention had been dedicated to them. To turn my passion for food into a mission I immersed myself into the discipline of a busy kitchen.

Yes, I have had to make sacrifices for everything. From family to friends - however, as things progress you get more time. I give all the time I have to my work. There are no short-cuts in this environment

I test out the competition by keeping my finger on the pulse of current trends and styles. Experiencing other people’s restaurants help us learn more. I have developed a personal style. It’s flavour first and always cooking with the seasons.

Mistakes are there for us to learn and move on from but the five things that have helped me in life are my mother, father, wife, team, and time.

Slice of advice: Stick at what you do , be in it for the marathon not the sprint

Marcello Tully

Brazilian-born Marcello Tully has worked for the Roux Brothers for six years in diverse establishments. In 2007, at the behest of Scotland’s award winning cook and food writer lady Claire Macdonald, Marcello moved as head chef at Kinloch Lodge in the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Frequently featured on radio and television, he’s been on BBC radio, Scotland, and has been a Michelin Star awardee every consecutive year since 2010

I discovered my passion for food at the age of 14 - waitering in a French restaurant, but desperate to get in the kitchen.

My passion became a mission because I stuck to my dreams, kept working with food and evolving. By sacrifices I mean the time I give to my work: I’m 100% dedicated, which means little time at home unfortunately!

I test out the competition by eating out and sampling food at other places. Actually, I thrive on competition! The personal style I have developed in classical modern French cuisine, using the finest Scottish ingredients, with a Brazilian touch!

At work I look ahead and stay focused. Mistakes I feel are not worth dwelling on. One should learn and move on

The five things that have helped me in life are my knives, my pots, my palette, my motivation and my wife!

Slice of advice: Learn as much as you can from the pioneers of the industry

Mark Best

Mark Best started his working life as an electrician in the gold mines of Western Australia before starting his culinary career at the age of 25. He has worked at ‘L’Arpége’ in Paris, Alain Passard’s three Michelin Star ‘Gastro Temple’ and is now owner and chef of Marque in Sydney, Australia

It was on my first job in a professional kitchen at Macleay St Bistro. I worked a very busy lunch service without really knowing what was going on. It was a pure adrenaline rush with the smells, sounds and excitement of a busy kitchen. I was hooked.

I have to say my ambition has always stayed ahead of my ability. My passion has come naturally, which I see as a gift. You can make yourself fall in love with something.
Cooking and running restaurants are all-consuming. The hours put in have to be rationalised as lifestyle, not work. I can’t tell the insurance company my true hours or I couldn’t be insured! That is where passion comes into it. Without the love and passion for my work it would be an extremely arduous job.

I test out the competition by staying true to myself and my vision. My personal style is taking the best and most unusual ingredients I can find and unlocking their secrets. What helps? A loving family, wonderful friends, hard work, open mind and lady luck.

Slice of advice: Be true to yourself and honest in your pursuits