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I took a weekend job as a commis chef and it all started from there: Chef Gary Foulkes

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Starting his career under the guidance of Gary Rhodes, Michelin star Chef Gary Foulkes has since worked with a whole series of acclaimed chefs including John Campbell, The Vineyard at Stockcross; Richard Neat and also William Drabble at the Aubergine in Chelsea. During his two-city tour of India with All Things Nice to host a dinner in Mumbai and Delhi, Chef Foulkes spoke about his timeline of career in the culinary arts sphere By Akshay Nayak

What inspired you to pursue a career in the culinary arts field?
It just kind of happened. I went on a week’s work experience when I was at school and spent a day with the different departments – my final day was spent in the kitchen – there was so much energy in there and everyone seemed to be having a great time and enjoying themselves whilst they worked. I liked the look of it and thought, let’s give it a go, I took a weekend job as a commis chef and it all started from there.

What were the initial challenges and opportunities that you faced while pursuing a professional career in the same?
I think the initial challenges for young chefs remain the same as when I started cooking… a lack of sleep, a new pressured environment, in many cases moving away from home, working evenings when your friends are out having a good time – a lot of people struggle with it and decide to do something else. I have a lot of respect for people that see it through and go on to forge great careers for themselves – as I know how hard it is to get there.

How does it test your mettle to keep the consistency in maintaining the status of Michelin-star chef, year on year?
It’s tough but very enjoyable at the same time. Consistently producing the same quality food is hard as so many factors can affect it like the weather, suppliers, maybe some of the staff are having a bad day, etc., and none of this can affect the customer – that is where the pressure is – having to deliver on expectation day in, day out.

What culinary skills and experience are you showcasing during your visit in India?
I have already visited India before but thanks to Nikhil Agarwal and All Things Nice this is the first time I am cooking here. I’m just aiming to cook delicious food for people in my own food style which many people have not tried before and different flavour combinations that they may not be used to but using the local ingredients. Planning the menu around those local ingredients to fit in with my own food style was really interesting.

Your mantra for aspiring chefs?
Find yourself the best possible kitchen to cook in that you can and take it all in. Listen, keep your eyes and ears open and enjoy it, it’s going to be tough but don’t give up.

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