Chef Russell Brown

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th February 2011

Chef Russell Brown Blog, Chef/patron of Dorset's only Michelin starred Restarant, as featured in The Staff Canteen Menu Watch. I was 27 when I first started working in a professional kitchen. I ran a small unprofitable fishing tackle business prior to becoming a chef and I went from sitting on my backside all day to a 60 hour week as a commis chef at the Alverton Manor Hotel in Truro, Cornwall. I was lucky; then head chef Collin Gilbert was hugely talented and once he decided I was serious about cooking as a career (it took about 3 months of relentless pressure working on the larder!), he freely passed on as much of his knowledge as possible. I did just over a year at the Alverton before moving to Percy's in Devon and then on to my first Head Chef's job at Yalbury Cottage in Dorset where I stayed for 3½ years.  A year back in Devon working at the Horn of Plenty followed before Elena and I opened Sienna in 2003. Eight years down the line we are thankfully still going. Business is good, gaining a star last year really helped and we have just retained the star in the 2011 guide. Blogs, twitter, social networking?  "No that's not for me!"  At least, that's what I thought when Richard and Claire Budd started nagging me about my profile.  Between them they handle our PR (www.ClaireBudd.co.uk), web design (www.lionheartgraphics.co.uk) and Richard Budd photography and so that's how www.chefrussellbrown.co.uk/ came into being. The idea was really just to showcase a bit more of what we do, some new photography, some videos and a blog. I have done a bit of writing before; county magazines, local newspapers that sort of thing but the blog has turned into something bigger. I think the essence of it is sharing more of what we do. Catering is an incredibly open business. So much of what I have learnt over the years has come from the books other chefs have written, magazine articles, stages and more recently the Internet. Need a recipe for Gazpacho, a quick trawl through the staff canteen or type it into Google and there will no doubt be a few to choose from! What I have tried to do with the blog is give an insight into what we do, and although it's aimed slightly more at our customers, I hope it's of interest to chefs and restaurateurs as well. I have written about our business, restaurants we've visited and some of the trials and tribulations of running a Michelin star kitchen. I have also included recipes and things like table availability, special events such as wine dinners and current job vacancies. Now when a customer asks for a recipe, instead of emailing it to them I hand them a business card and say l'll post it on the blog in the next few days. As well as being fun to write, the blog really is a powerful marketing tool. It is linked to the Sienna website and to twitter. That's great if you have a cancellation and a table to fill, not only do our followers on twitter see the tweet but the last five or six show on the Sienna site and http://www.chefrussellbrown.co.uk/ The videos have also been incredibly popular both with other chefs and our customers. Richard did a fantastic job shooting and editing the clips, and they have allowed people to see much more of what goes on behind the scenes. Certainly the Youtube viewing figures are good and people do now say "can I have the cod, that's the one on the video." Both the blog and twitter have proved to be great for making contact with new people and for   sharing ideas and information. It has also prompted contact with new suppliers and got people more involved in what we do. Have a look at the latest posts on the blog and let me know what you think. Chef Russell Brown.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th February 2011

Chef Russell Brown