Steve and his wife Claire are restaurant consultants having run their own successful restaurants in Leamington Spa and Birmingham until 2015. Steve trained with Alain Ducasse, Paris.
Having closed the doors on their restaurant Loves Restaurant, Birmingham in June 2015, Steve and Claire are concentrating on their consultancy which brings support and expertise to fellow restaurateurs in the industry. He is also the private chef to Lord and Lady Bamford.
Steve has been cooking since he was 15, and cites his mother as the strongest influence that encouraged him to try cooking whilst still at school. He started his formal training at Stratford College and went on to do his apprenticeship at The Welcombe, and then onto Ettington Park Hotel.
It was whilst he was here that he won the Roux Scholarship. The prestigious prize was winning a Stage at Alain Ducasse’s 3 Michelin starred restaurant in Paris. It was here that Steve says his direction of food changed. He realised that the very best food being cooked was primarily about sourcing the best possible ingredients and treating them with absolute care and consideration.
On his return from Paris, he took a position working alongside Gary Jones (who now oversees Le Manoir aux Quats Saisons) at the Waldo’s Restaurant at Cliveden. During his time as Head Chef at Mallory Court in Leamington Spa, he met Claire and within a year they opened Loves Restaurant in Leamington Spa in 2001. It was whilst Steve was here that he won the coveted National Chef of the Year for Great Britain, an award shared by only 22 chefs including Gordon Ramsay.
After he won the Roux Scholarship in 1997, he became the first person in the country to hold both national awards. Steve is recognised as one of the most respected chefs in the industry and continues to judge and mentor young chefs across the country.
Talking about his stage: “Alain Ducasse was the chef who was at the forefront and suddenly from being a sous chef in a country house hotel thinking about banqueting and room service I was in one of the world’s great kitchens in the centre of Paris. It certainly opened my eyes. Kitchen life was tough to begin with. It’s a different culture over there and they like to test you but I had age on my side and I knew why I was there.
It was a fantastic experience and I’d like to do more but its hard to find the time and that’s what it so great about the scholarship, they organise everything for you.
Looking back I can say that the stage definitely helped me to have the confidence to open my own place and also gave me Michelin understanding. When I came back I knew I had to learn more and I went to work with Gary Jones. Being the Roux Scholar definitely opened that door. I wouldn’t have got a look in otherwise.”
I went on to be head chef at Mallory Court and Michel actually gave me a reference. Its definitely true that the winners of the scholarship join the Roux family. Michel has been incredible over the years. He has helped me by checking the leases on my restaurant, with recipes and ideas and has become a friend in many ways.
I couldn’t recommend entering the scholarship more highly. It’s a tremendous experience and if you win then you can write your own ticket and now literally go anywhere.