Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton
Private Chef to The Lord Kirkham
Winning the scholarship truly was a life changing event for me. I was young, 22, at the time and I’d started in the profession young. I’d had good country house training under a classical chef and I wanted to go on a stage to a restaurant that had the lot: luxury, 3 stars, destination.
I wasn’t massively aware of what was going on in France at the time and Michel asked me for a list of places I’d like to go. Three came up in Paris: Taillevent, Gagnaire and Lucas Carton. Michel recommended Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton and off I went.
Looking back it was an incredible trip. Luckily for me they were great in the kitchen and moved me around a lot. I did garnish, pastry, hot garnish and in the end I ran the larder. It was an amazing experience, I picked up the language quite quickly and had a great time. In the end I didn’t want to come back. They actually offered me a job but with living expenses I couldn’t afford to stay on the wages they offered.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t draw on some aspect of what I learnt from winning the Scholarship. I always wanted to be a private chef and work for one person or one family and winning gave me the confidence to do that.
Now I have a wonderful job and travel around a lot but the transition from the restaurant world to the home kitchen was not easy. It took me three or four years to get confident enough to introduce my own dishes. You’ve got to learn what the family want first and you come second. But now there are no more menus and I know what they want and they trust me to deliver what I think. The Roux Scholarship definitely helped me to achieve this.
1998: Patrick Thompson
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