Bruce Cole, head chef, The River Cottage

The Staff Canteen
Bruce Cole

Bruce Cole discusses his role as Head Chef at River Cottage, Plymouth Canteen and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Bruce Cole

Place of work: River Cottage, Plymouth Canteen

Role: Head Chef

Bio: Previous Head Chef at Moorland Garden Hotel Bruce is the new Head Chef at River Cottage who aims to expand on his knowledge by creating and seeking out innovative cooking methods.

Chef Skills

Bruce Cole takes us through his personal experiences whilst being in the Culinary Industry. These key skills that young Chefs and industry professionals learn as part of their basic training.

How long have you been in this role?

15 years as a Head Chef, in a new position with River Cottage.

What experience and how many years in your opinion would someone need in order to progress to the top level of the industry?

I would say anything between 12 – 18 years to be in the real top of the industry and know everything that needs to be learnt about cookery. From the basics to advanced cookery. Understanding and respecting ingredients and being adaptable to not only situations but to guest requirements.

What are your ultimate top five tips for someone looking to start a career in the industry?

  • Get into the best place that suits you. Be stretched and feel uncomfortable but it’s good to get out of your comfort zone. Somewhere that will teach you the ethos and seasonality of produce.
  • Learn the basics and take it from there – work up through the ranks.
  • Be hardworking. The more investment that you put into your learning will be the ultimate reward for when you get to the top.
  • Constantly ask questions.
  • Consistently read. About food, cookery. Utilise respected authors.

Who are the key Chefs and restaurants that someone should be speaking to and trying to gain experience with?

 Find the best person in the industry who meets with your ethos. If you want to get into fine dining or molecular gastronomy, it may be Heston Blumenthal. If you’re  fascinated by great produce, seasonality, the environmental impact of food and the basics then Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is your man.

You mention that you help with CV writing and mentoring, what advice are you giving to young Chefs?

What should someone be writing on their CV and do you offer advice for when they attend interviews?

 Be punchy. Stick to facts. Show your willingness to learn. And be proud of what you’ve learnt and what you’re about. And it’s vital to be a team-player when you’re in the kitchen.

Be punchy. Stick to facts. Show your willingness to learn. And be proud of what you’ve learnt and what you’re about. And it’s vital to be a team-player when you’re in the kitchen.

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 2nd March 2017

Bruce Cole, head chef, The River Cottage