Stuart has been a member of our team since October 2015. Beginning his professional journey in France, Stuart’s career has taken him to Holland, and back here to Devon, which he now calls home. With twenty years experience in the industry, beginning straight from school, and having worked in two Michelin star restaurants, we’re very lucky to have him on board to share his knowledge with our students.
Having worked for 15 years as Senior Sous Chef at the 2AA Rosette Combe House in Honiton, Stuart took a whole weekend off before joining us at Ashburton. He took 5 minutes to sit down with us, so we could get to know a little more about him.
Hi Stuart, we already know a bit about your background in the industry, first could you tell us what bought you to teaching?
Having been at Combe House for so many years, when the owners decided it was time to retire, I took the opportunity to reflect on what it was I enjoyed most. I realised that what I liked above all else was training young chefs to a high standard and seeing them progress and go on to bigger and better things.
And what bought you to Ashburton Cookery School?
Staying in Devon was a big plus. I’d fallen in love with the place when I moved here. Knowing both the school and Darrin [Hosegrove, our Chef Director] by reputation, and having sent many trainee chefs on work experience, it was a perfect fit. The school was looking to recruit a new Chef Tutor, and I was lucky enough to get it. So I left my job of fifteen years on the Friday, and was here by Monday.
What is it about Devon that you fell in love with?
Just everything really. The quality of ingredients available; the freshly landed fish, and the farms, the artisan produce and the ales and wines.
What are your favourite classes to teach?
I love the immediate results you get from the one-day courses. People achieve results above and beyond expectation, and in such a short space of time. It’s great for building confidence. Yet, I also love the gradual build up of results that students from the Chefs Academy accomplish, where it all comes together towards the end. As far as the leisure programs are concerned, I really enjoy teaching the Italian courses. The relative simplicity of the recipes, but the maximum impact of the flavours. Though saying that, I enjoy them all for different reasons.
When you’re cooking at home, or for others, do you have a signature dish, or style?
I particularly enjoy balancing delicate fish with stronger flavours, and working on variations of that theme.
What’s the most common questions you get asked as a chef?
On the one-day courses, the question that pops up the most is, how do I peel and cut an onion without crying?
The key is to use a good sharp knife as you will release less of the tear enzymes in the air.