Jon Gay, Jimmy's Farm, Ipswich

The Staff Canteen

Jon Gay discusses his role as Head Chef at Jimmy’s Farm, Ipswich and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Jon Gay

Place of work: Jimmy’s Farm, Ipswich

Role: Head Chef

Bio: Jon is Head Chef at Jimmy’s Farm but also runs his own award-winning cookery school. His role includes running the food side of the restaurant (serving up to 400 covers a day), the Field Kitchen (outside restaurant), catering for weddings and the Jimmy’s Farm areas of catering at the three festivals ran on the farm; attracting over 30,000 people a year.

Chef Skills

Jon Gay 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? 

One year in April.

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

  1. Passion – There is no point entering the industry without it. The hours, stress and hard work the industry requires mean passion is not optional.
  2. Willingness to learn – the industry is all about learning, from the first time you pick up your set of knives to the day you retire you will learn something every day of your career.
  3. Enthusiasm to practice – Learning to cook is like learning an instrument, you don’t buy a saxophone and think you’re ready to join a jazz band! Cook at home, practise dishes on friends and family.
  4. Realism – You’re not going to own a restaurant a month after finishing college. It’s likely you’re going to be working gruelling 14 hour shifts on pot-wash, or veg prep…  
  5. Perseverance – Stick at it, those days prepping potatoes and washing up will teach you valuable lessons and are your opportunity to show your employer how hard you are willing to work. Never give up on getting your perfect job, or work experience, keep knocking on the door and eventually your opportunity will come.  

What are the main things that aspiring Chefs should be doing to build their CVs up?

Experience is vital, and while it might seem difficult to get that first job, getting work experience is a good way of gaining experience – it shows dedication to learning, commitment and is a great way to learn skills. Another tip for building up your CV is taking up any opportunities of extra courses, be it First Aid, Fire Safety and Food Hygiene – these are great talking points in an interview and could end up being the clinching point in your dream job!

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

That’s an interesting question. It very much depends on the young Chef, it depends on the style of food they want to be working in and what kind of Chef they would benefit working under. Some Chefs thrive off strict rules and being shouted out, others prefer a more relaxed, creative working environment. Likewise trying to gain Michelin experience might be an ambition, but there are lots of Chefs who would prefer a different style or a farm to fork cooking environment. But think big, whichever style of cookery or restaurant you are interested in try and get to the best. It takes perseverance and a lot of hassling to get noticed and get the opportunity.

How important would you say further education is in this industry?

Further education is great, it’s a great way for a young Chef to get much-needed knowledge and hands-on experience with recipes and ingredients. However, it’s not a necessity, there are some brilliant self-taught Chefs, and there is nothing wrong with getting out into kitchens and working your way up. Completing training be it level 2,3 or more is a great gateway to the industry – it doesn’t fast-track you to an executive Chef job, you will still need to work your way up, earn the opportunities for promotions and respect in the kitchen.  

Any other tips from a cookery school perspective? 

In terms of the Cookery School, it came from an ambition to give people the freedom and knowledge to improve skills at home. It’s great fun to be out and about, working in different kitchens with different skill sets, and incredibly rewarding to see the finished results! It goes to show if you have a passion and an enthusiasm think big and you can really achieve.

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th April 2017

Jon Gay, Jimmy's Farm, Ipswich