Case study

Head chef — Clive Howe

It was a lecturer who first inspired Clive to pursue a career in Michelin-starred kitchens. He explains how he became a head chef

What did you study and where?

I completed my City & Guilds 706/1 and 706/2 at North Hertfordshire College. I had inspirational lecturers. This gave me the ambition to work in some of the best hotel restaurants, such as The Dorchester.

I am now head chef at The Garrick Club in London, a private members' club based in Covent Garden.

How did you get your job?

After finishing college, where I worked weekends at a local restaurant, I came to London and got a job in the kitchen at a hotel in Heathrow.

I then decided to take a pay cut to work as a commis chef at The Dorchester. This was a great experience. I learnt about nouvelle cuisine and worked under Anton Mosimann. Within four years I became a sous chef. This was down to hard work and taking challenges head on. At The Dorchester I also took part in international competitions.

I went on to work as head chef at an 11-bedroom hotel in the North West. Following that, I took a role as an executive chef at The Lygon Arms in Worcestershire, which at the time was part of the Savoy Group. I was able to create menus using local produce and was interviewed for many international magazines, appeared on TV and also created menus for Concorde.

I then worked as an executive chef to the global food service manager at Goldman Sachs. I learnt more about food in this role than any other - travelling to Hong Kong, Singapore, Chicago, Frankfurt and New York to design menus.

After this, I started my current role at The Garrick Club.

What is a typical day like?

I am a hands-on chef - 80% of my time is spent in the kitchen. I ensure the standard and quality of food.

I arrive at 8am most days, sometimes leaving at 9.30pm. We do 200 covers a day and have a kitchen brigade of 14, including two sous chefs. We serve breakfast, lunch and pre- and post-theatre dinner.

Although 60-hour weeks can be typical in the industry, most of the kitchen staff here work 40 hours a week.

Meeting the members and being the face of the kitchen is also an important aspect of my role.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy seeing young people develop. I like to receive feedback from members and my aim is to always exceed their expectations.

What are the challenges?

The main challenge is finding the right staff. Staff retention at The Garrick Club is good, but it can be challenging to find the right people to work in the kitchen, with the difficulties that living and working in London can bring.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

Love what you do, be honest and fair with people and challenge yourself.

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