I joined the kitchen as an 18-year-old in need of money. I started on washing up duties. But I was drawn to the vibe, excitement and energy of the kitchen. I enjoyed the late nights, early mornings and eclectic mix of people. I didn't grow up learning to make apple pie with my nan or anything like that, although I have fond memories of making my little brother fish finger sandwiches with white bread when I came home from school. I used to just have a go at cooking things and see how they turned out. Kitchens are very good at finding people. You can rise to the top through sheer will and that's it. It’s the most diverse, embracing industry you can find – it has no prejudices, no issues with educational background, race, religion, sexuality, economic background – none of it makes any difference whatsoever as long as you’ve got the work ethic.
Growing up, we’d go to a Berni Inn for special occasions. They were the UK’s first gastro pubs – they were a little bit like Beefeaters, but a bit more pubby, and they would do things like half a roast chicken with peas that had been sat under hot lamps for ages. But from our point of view, they were special places you’d go to once a year, and they were really exciting.
We’re so lucky that the UK food scene is massively diverse and exciting. We’ve got everything from places with two Michelin stars – such as Sat Bains in Nottingham, which is an amazing restaurant, and No 6 by Paul Ainsworth in Padstow. Paul is my best mate and godparent to my son, and he’s refining Padstow. No 6 is an exciting Michelin-starred restaurant with brilliant food, and he’s absolutely at the top of his game but then, at the same time, he’s got The Mariners pub over the estuary in Rock which serves fish and chips or chicken bites or bar snacks – things that are just brilliantly done, but really accessible. Cornwall in general is just a magical place to be.