A chef's diary with Ruth Hansom, March 2017

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th March 2017

This year sees us welcome our newest blogger to The Staff Canteen. Young National Chef of the Year 2017 winner, Ruth Hansom, will be giving us a monthly insight into her life as a chef at Michelin-starred the Ritz as well as many other exciting opportunities she is set to experience in the coming year.

In her third blog, Ruth talks about cooking for Michelin-starred chef, Michel Roux Jnr for the Norwegian Ambassador’s Residence, her recent WorldSkills training and the women who inspire her the most.

poached rhubarb, vanilla and orange

poached rhubarb,

vanilla and orange

So, I think my last post was at the beginning of February after returning home from Norway. The following week I was asked to cook a 3 course menu celebrating Skrei for Michel Roux Jr and 30 guests at the Norwegian Ambassador’s Residence – Scary, I know! But Simon Hulstone and some of the amazing Ritz team were on hand to assist. The menu included confit skrei cheeks, crispy tongue, pressed pig head, pickled ginger, mouli and coriander. For main, pan roasted skrei, coco beans, parsley puree, Jerusalem and baby artichokes, alsace jus gras. And to finish, poached rhubarb, vanilla and orange.

The following week I went to Loughborough University to do some WorldSkills training. Part of our training is setting goals to ensure that we are mentally and physically fit to compete. The competition lasts four days and can be up to eight hours a day.

That doesn’t sounds like a big work load for a chef but you have to be fully focused at all times and working as fast as you can without letting standards slip. There can be as many as 20 judges at one time watching your every move so you have to ensure they have nothing to mark you down on for your working practices before they even start looking at your technical capability. We have been working with a physician to improve our flexibility and a psychologist who has been helping us control our ‘inner chimp’ – okay, I may sound a little crazy now but research it! Another big part of it is team work. Team UK will be built up of one person from every skill.

This ranges from hairdressing to automobile repair to CAD design. It is pretty much guaranteed that everyone will have a bad day so it is important to get to know the team well so you know if they are the type of person who will need comforting or completely avoiding after a bad day! I also did some pressure testing which is more skills based. I travel with everything but the kitchen sink when I’m training or competing because I like to set up in the same way every time. There are so many variables that you can’t control when you are in a different kitchen with new ingredients so it makes me more confident to have a few things I can keep the same.

MasterChef: The Professional's Monica Galetti
Monica Galetti

So, March 8 was International Women’s Day. I’m sure some of you are now sighing and telling me to give it a rest. I don’t think I’m a feminist (yeah, that’s what they all say) however, I am inspired by successful women, especially in our male dominated industry. Some women who inspire me include Chantelle Nicholson at Treadwell’s, Monica Galetti at Mere and Anne Pierce from Springboard.

>>> Related: International Women’s Day: Celebrating Female Chefs

Another way in which I source inspiration is eating out. I enjoy most experiences and always take something away from it. Whether that be a great aesthetical idea you want to try out, an amazing flavour combination or even just something that didn’t work so well that you know to avoid doing in the future.

This month my favourite new try was Temper on Broadwick St from owner and chef, Neil Rankin. The menu is full of home smoked meats and if you’re there at the right time such as for a late lunch, you can sit at the bar and watch the chefs break down half animals ready to smoke. The price and the wine selection just made it easier to love! As a chef you want to eat food with loads of flavour in a relaxed environment and that’s exactly what I got.

I know what you’re thinking, is she ever at work? But I am, I promise! I am always on hand to test out the first bakes in the morning that’s for sure! 

Right, I’m off for evening service! Oh, one last thing, who else is getting way too excited about morels and asparagus?? Hopefully I will have some pictures for you next month. Hello Spring.

Ruth Hansom
Ruth Hansom

Ruth Hansom is a chef at The Ritz Hotel in London. Ruth is no stranger to competitions having competed in the Young National Chef of the Year contest twice, before winning the 2017 title. Ruth has been at the Ritz for three years where she started out as an apprentice before working her way to become a chef.

Former Springboard FutureChef winner always knew she wanted to be a chef. She was just 15 years old when she came to London and competed in the FutureChef final at Westminster Kingsway College where she later studied.
She became a Craft Guild of Chefs’ Graduate in 2014 and is regarded as ‘one to watch’ in the industry.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th March 2017

A chef's diary with Ruth Hansom, March 2017