Tell us about your background. What made you want to become a chef?
Cooking runs in my family. My uncle was a respected chef among top military officials and sparked my passion for hearty, home-cooked food.
Where have you trained and worked? And where has been your favourite place to work?
I went to culinary school in Romania and after a few jobs in local restaurants, I decided to go and work on cruise ships. I joined Carnival Cruise Lines in 2004 and worked on 2 cruise liners over 2 years (Carnival Fascination and Carnival Spirit), cruising mainly in the Caribbean and Alaska. That was probably my favourite place to work as we were travelling so much and also because I got the chance to assimilate so much knowledge from all the chefs on board. There were many and from all corners of the world.
In 2005 I arrived in the UK and started as Chef de Partie for Tortworth Court near Bristol, before moving to The Grand Thistle Hotel in Bristol City Centre, where I was part of the team for 3 years.
I worked in London for a little bit as well. I did a 10-month stint for BAFTA at their 195 Piccadilly BAFTA Members HQ. After that, I moved to Scotland and worked at various locations, such as the Scottish Parliament and Angel's Share Hotel where I held my first Head Chef position for 1 year before I moved to a larger venue Carberry Tower, an estate focused on high-end functions and weddings.
I am now the Head Chef at The Paper Mills in Wansford, Peterborough and for the past 4 years, I have dedicated pretty much my whole time and passion to make the place one of the best in the area. I think I am nearly there!
What is your favourite dish to prepare at the moment and why?
Recently I have added a Duo of Duck dish to the menu, which proves to be very popular. It is served with dauphinoise potatoes, green beans, and a pink peppercorn and hoisin jus. The duo consists of confit leg and pan-seared breast. I am a perfectionist by nature and I love this dish as it combines precision and different cooking styles with flavours from French and Asian cuisine.
How has the changing dietary needs of customers influenced your preparation in the kitchen?
It’s changed a lot over the recent years. With so many allergies we have to be really careful with the ingredients we use. Consistency is key, as every chef in the kitchen should know what ingredients are used in every dish. I have spent a huge amount of time making recipe cards and detailed lists of ingredients. It’s not what makes a chef happy but it has to be done!
Are there any cooking gadgets you can’t live without?
I am a ‘you have to make do with what you've got’ kind of chef so not really. But on a really busy service don't take my Rational oven!!
You’ve taken part in Chef Sessions Live. How did you find the day?
It was fun, exciting and very well organised. It was a pleasure to meet Andrej Prokes again and take part in this campaign.
How have you found working with our CHEF® products? Which is your favourite in the range and why?
As always, a chef's dream. They’re versatile, time saving and flavoursome range. I don't have a favourite product, as I like them all!
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