Phil Thompson, Auberge du Lac, Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire

The  Staff Canteen
Phil Thompson, who comes from a family of chefs, is an executive chef at Auberge du Lac Brocket Hall. After a couple of stages at Gary Rhodes restaurant and Chez Bruce before doing nine months at a new opening – St Martin’s Lane, Phil went on to work for a short time at The Oak Room Marco Pierre White, before moving to The Picasso Room, L’Escargot. After working there he finally moved to Auberge du Lac Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire. His career has seen him spend time in some great kitchens, the experience which has given him the tool to get where he is today.

How long have you been in your current role?

I have been Head Chef at the Auberge du Lac for 9 years, Executive Chef for 5 years  What are the goals for you and the business? I'm not sure if the restaurant can get any busier! But personal goals - I want to see how far I can push myself and the team, to see what we are really capable of. Describe your food style. My Mum calls it pretty patterns on a plate! But I think the technical term is Classic French with a modern British twist. I don't know! It's just nice seasonal food! What has been your biggest learning curve? My biggest learning curve was growing up fast as a young Head Chef surrounded by colleagues older than me. I found it hard to cope with the pressure at such a young age. What has been your biggest success to date? My greatest success is the boys in my kitchen. None of them had worked in a Michelin starred kitchen before so what we achieved was amazing. To watch them take on board what you're trying to show them, and achieve and progress every day is fantastic, and now my Sous Chef that started with me 7 ½ years ago as a Commis going to work for Daniel in NYC (3 Michelin Stars) which I consider to be a huge achievement. What's the biggest frustration about being The Head Chef? My biggest frustration is paperwork and meetings. Cooking is the easiest part of my day. I still do the butchery and fish prep in the morning and every service, but the afternoons kill me! Who's been the biggest influence on your career to date? I've been lucky to work for some great Chefs, I started my career with Paul Gayler at the Lanesborough Hotel in Hyde Park, then went on to work for both Chris and Jeff Galvin at Orrery and L'Escargot, all of them were different but brilliant to work for and to learn from. Also, the chefs I worked alongside in their kitchens - from Allan Pickett, Warren Geraghty, Toby Stuart, Jeff Smedly and Dom Teague and my best mate Chris Eden, fantastic chefs who I shall keep in touch with.  How important is having a good team to you and the business? Having a good team is vital, but having a good team who provide banter and a good atmosphere in the kitchen is more important when you're trying to get the best out of them. They need to feel like they are contributing to the business and getting involved.  Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 5 years is a long time eh! Who knows, I'd love to say I'll have my own place but I take one day at a time; you never know what is around the corner.       If you like what Phil does and think you could do something similar, check out our head chef jobs here. 
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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th July 2011

Phil Thompson, Auberge du Lac, Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire