“It’s the hospitality that is the best thing I have learned from the Roux Scholarship. When I first entered the competition and turned up to cook Michel offered me a coffee and then went off to make it or find it. I’ve never forgotten that. Not many people would have that level of concern or be that hospitable. It made me feel welcome and that calmed me down.
After I won I sat down with Michel and he said it would be a great idea if I was the first chef to go back to a chef that a previous chef had been to. I wanted to go somewhere that was classical but with modern influences and he recommended that I go to Michel Guerard.
This turned out to be an inspired choice. Later when he came to visit he brought Andrew Fairlie with him and we were able to talk about history and Andrew told me the things that were new and what had changed. It was fascinating.
The whole experience was like going to university, it was real life, sink or swim. Michel Guerrard’s food was very refined but was also very soulful. It was rustic in a way but taken to a limit. It relfected the region with great foie gras, great beef, great poultry. It was definitely food that you wanted to it.
Food is part of what we offer now at the Montagu Arms but it is not the whole thing whereas at Michel Guerard it was a destination restaurant. But I keep coming back to this whole subject of hospitality, about the guest experience and how it important it is to make them feel comfortable first and then the food will follow. These are the lessons I learnt from the scholarship and I draw on them every day.
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