Mark Puckey, Head chef, Padstow Seafood School

The Staff Canteen
Mark Pucky

Mark Puckey discusses his role as Head Chef lecturer at Padstow Seafood School and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Mark Puckey

Role: Head Chef lecturer at Padstow Seafood School

Bio: Having worked for Rick Stein for over 14 years in a number of head Chef positions including Stein’s Deli, Rick Stein’s Cafe and our production unit Mark has been head Chef lecturer at the school since 2005. Drawing upon his many culinary experiences acquired from his time spent travelling Mark offers his advice to those just starting out.

Follow Mark on Twitter here: @MarkPuckey or the school on @PWSeafoodSchool

Chef Skills

Mark Puckey 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.

So you’ve worked in various Rick Stein establishments for over 14 years but moved to become a lecturer in 2005 – what made you make this move?

I’m a people person and wanted to share all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained in my travels with other people.

Do you think it’s important for a Chef like yourself, who has been cooking for this number of years, to impart their wisdom?

Definitely, I’m learning new things all the time, you never stop learning and I love sharing that with my students and peers.

Starting at the age of 13 did you know then that this was definitely the career for you?

As soon as I started in the kitchen, I loved the sense of teamwork and comradery. I started in a tiny kitchen in Polperro, surrounded by all these beautiful local ingredients - seeing all the local produce and fish inspired me from the start.

You specialised at a young age, would you advise that people specialise early or should they be gaining experience from all different types of cuisine?

You should build as broad a repertoire as possible at the start and then specialise in what interests you. I grew up in a small fishing village, surrounded by fresh fish and shellfish so my specialist is a natural fit.

You’ve also travelled around – is this something that you would encourage too and why would you recommend?

There’s no better knowledge than the knowledge you learn travelling. Everyone should do it and experience new cultures, tastes and ingredients.

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

Always look to see what other Chefs are doing, get into the best kitchens you can and soak up as much knowledge as possible.

What are your top tips for someone looking to work within the industry?

Be humble, enthusiastic and love what you do – you’ve got to love it to be good at it.  

Have you noticed an increase in the number of people signing up for the cookery classes – especially thinking back to 2005 would you say there are more now?

There's definitely been more interest in learning about where things are from, our new seasonal tasting demos with our local suppliers have been really popular this year.

With such a ‘big’ name attached to the cookery school do you think people expect a higher level of teaching/something more than they’d get at their local college for example?

We certainly have our own style of teaching and all the years of training with Rick behind us, you learn different things in different places.

Does that put pressure on you?

I don’t feel pressure when I’m teaching because Rick trusts me. We work very closely on the teaching styles, methods and recipes for the courses throughout the year.

Why do you think there has been a boost recently in the number of people attending cookery schools?

People have really started to care more about what they’re eating. We have some students that are trained and want to learn a different skill set and others that are complete novices who are looking to build confidence in the kitchen.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th April 2017

Mark Puckey, Head chef, Padstow Seafood School