Father's Day: Luke Tipping, Simpsons Restaurant

The Staff Canteen

Ahead of Father's Day, we thought we’d do something a bit different and ask chefs to tell us about how their dads inspired them to start their career.

After all, what better way to honour and pay tribute to some great dads and shout out to chef dads everywhere?

Next up is Luke Tipping, chef director at Simpsons Restaurant in Birmingham, which also holds a star in the Michelin Guide UK. His father Ted, unfortunately, passed away 17 years ago, following a stroke and having battled cancer at the very young age of 62. In a touching tribute to his dad, a hard-working chef, Luke told us how Ted inspired his career and influenced his personal life.

Luke Tipping

Tell us about your childhood and how your father inspired your career.

My dad Ted definitely inspired my career but not in the way you’d expect. He was an incredibly hard working chef who spent most of his life working in a professional kitchen.  My brother Mark and I lived above several of his restaurants when we were growing up but I never got close to the action during my childhood.

 Dad started his career at the Plough and Harrow in Birmingham where he met my Mum, who was working there as a housekeeper. As the years moved on, he was keen to set up his own place. He succeeded and opened The Cabin, a 30-cover restaurant in Moseley (close to where Carters is now). He tried to do everything himself, including all the fixtures and fittings. Unfortunately, this was around the time of the miners’ strike and it was a difficult time for him.

He always wanted the best for us and as well as running The Cabin, he managed to hold down two other jobs. I remember him heading to Rum Runner, a well-known night club, to work in the kitchen there as soon as service at The Cabin was finished. My Dad was under a lot of pressure so it probably came as a relief when his former boss offered him a job at Chateau Impney in Droitwich.tipping quote

It’s because we never saw Dad when we were growing up that I decided very early on that I didn’t want to be the absent father when I had my own family. This resulted in me avoiding a career as a chef for a good few years. 

Fast forward to becoming a chef and my Dad has certainly inspired my work/life balance. Whilst I understand his reasons for not being able to see us, I go out of my way to make time for my family including playing golf with my son and watching my daughter play sport. I have breakfast with Diane, my wife, and two children and I cook and enjoy dinner with them before returning for the evening service.

When did you decide that you wanted to follow in his footsteps?

I left school at 16 and spent the next few years moving around various jobs. At 21, I was spending the odd day at the Grand Hotel in Birmingham as a KP and had the opportunity to help in the kitchen. I realised that this was better than anywhere else I’d worked - I loved the banter and the excitement of working in such a busy environment. I mentioned this to my dad and he asked if I’d like him to put a word in to the Plough and Harrow, then a highly respected restaurant. I ended up getting the job and it’s there that I met Andreas Antona. Needless to say, I’ve never looked back.

Ted Tipping

Ted Tipping always

keeping an eye on his chefs! 

That said, whilst I may have followed his footsteps into a career as a chef, I have certainly taken my approach to my family in a different direction. It’s ironic that my own son is now working at Simpsons to earn some pocket money and he’s loving the buzz and camaraderie. Unlike me, he sees the more glamorous side of hospitality, thanks to chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Michel Roux Junior.

Is there a particular dish that your dad taught you to cook?

There wasn’t a particular dish that he taught me to cook but I know he was classically trained and had excellent knowledge about food. He always worked on Christmas Day so we’d celebrate as a family on Boxing Day - I have fond memories of him cooking a fantastic leg of pork with excellent crackling.

Is there something you’d like to say to him for Father's Day if you could?

I don’t think my Dad ever ate at Simpsons and he died the year before we won the Michelin star. If I could, I’d like to invite him to dine with us and then spend some time talking with him about our shared passion for food and our careers.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th June 2017

Father's Day: Luke Tipping, Simpsons Restaurant