Chris's Experience Working at Chapter One
- Tell us a little bit about yourself.
- I’m an Agronomist and a potato grower by trade. Cooking has always been an interest of mine ever since I was a kid. Prior to coming to Dublin Cookery School, I went to the Tannery Cookery School in Dungarvan for three days and also did six Monday’s with JP McMahon in Galway at his Aniar Cookery School. I came away from those courses thinking right, I want to know more now! I definitely want to use this course as a platform to do something after the course, even if it’s converting my garage into a kitchen to do outdoor catering and one off events – that would be the minimum.
- What was it like working with Chef Ross Lewis?
- On the first day, I was on the pass watching what was happening and having chats with Ross Lewis (he would pass me bits of food for me to taste). On the second day, I had a really good chat with him in the afternoon for about an hour. It was really nice of him to take the time to do that. By my last day, there were three or four people in the kitchen getting me to do jobs for them. For any of the jobs that I was doing for them, I’d always ask, “What is this being used for?" and "What is the recipe?” I was helping them out with the mise en place and making myself available for anything that needed doing. I was doing interesting things like using the vacuum packing machine and the water baths, slicing things for the dehydrator, and fermenting horseradish – interesting things that I’d never heard of before.
- What was a personal highlight during your stage placement at Chapter One?
- I’d never been into a professional kitchen and seen it in operation. I’d never seen one in full flow and seen how they manage everything and the adrenalin rush of a service. The interesting thing was seeing how they managed the systems and the quality control of everything they were doing in the kitchen. In Chapter One, as part of the prep pre-service, everything is tasted at around 12pm. Ross and the head chef is there and they go around tasting everything and tick them off the list – the purées, the sauces, the cold starters, everything bar the meat and fish which can’t be cooked until service. Any elements that can be pre-cooked are tasted to ensure that everything is right so during service there are no mistakes – everything is done and it’s just a case of assembling the dishes.
- What is a stand-out lesson you will take away from this experience?
- The main memory I’ll take away with me is the pace and the adrenalin in the kitchen. On the recipe side of things it was really interesting to see things like fermented horseradish being served with scallops. I would never have thought about that combination myself. The afternoon I spent chatting with Ross Lewis was priceless – you can’t buy that! I was also chuffed to get invited back. They told me to keep in touch and said I could come back in any time. I’d like to use the knowledge I’ve gained here to tap into someone else in the industry. I couldn’t do that on my own but I now know I can ring Ross Lewis, Paul Flynn or Lynda for advice.
Above Picture: Chris honing the techniques he picked up from his stage placement at Chapter One.
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"The afternoon I spent chatting with Ross Lewis was priceless"
The afternoon I spent chatting with Ross Lewis was priceless – you can’t buy that!
I’d like to use the knowledge I’ve gained here to tap into someone else in the industry. I couldn’t do that on my own
12 Week Certificate Course Graduate, January 2015