Sous Chef with PLENTY of Experience
Ben has no problem recounting his earliest food memory, “I vividly remember the first time I cooked a meal. It was one afternoon after Primary School and my Nan was looking after my sister and me at her home in a tiny Devonshire village. She wanted to keep me occupied and so she got me to help her cook Coq au Vin.”
“It inspired me to take Food Tech at GCSE and I got an A*. But, despite my teacher, Mrs Mullard’s, best efforts to get me on a 6th Form Work Placement, I quit school and got my first proper job at Dartington Hall near Totnes, aged just 16.”
“It was invigorating and great fun but I was under a lot of pressure at home and so, aged 19, I decided to leave. I took a job as a Sous Chef at a pub called The Abbey Inn in Buckfastleigh. When the Head Chef left I was promoted but they didn’t replace me and so I found myself alone, running a kitchen for the first time. It was a baptism of fire but I must have done a good job as the next year we were voted the ‘7th Best Pub to Eat At in Devon & Cornwall’ by Taste of the West.”
It was whilst working under Darren Hosegrove at the renowned Ashburton Cookery School that Ben started to define his own cooking style. “Darren was inspirational; a great manager and they did things with style, hosting lots of guest appearances and chef competitions.” It was there where Ben met Michael Caines, who remains one of his heroes to this day.
“Darren encouraged me to broaden my horizons and so I went freelance. Whilst doing a stint conference catering at Rill Farm, I cooked for the School of Movement Medicine who had some diverse dietary requirements including vegan, wheat, sugar and dairy free. It was a steep learning curve but got me interested in healthy eating.”
“It was whilst working for Chai Wallah at the big festivals like Glastonbury, Shambala and Green Man that I developed my passion for Asian food. I love the vibrant flavours and simple use of fresh, healthy ingredients. Sushi is a particular favourite of mine and I’m also a massive fan of Ottolenghi, especially his book ‘PLENTY’ which I find fresh, exciting and very relevant.”
“I love the team spirit at Fosters. Our Exec Head Chef, Paul Biggs is so positive and motivational, his passion shines through in everything he does and I’m looking forward to sharing my ideas and learning from him.”