"I thought there and then my career was over"

The Staff Canteen

Aaron Middleton and Andy Lewis discuss the pair’s friendship, Andy’s mental and physical recovery after a serious kitchen injury at Tom Kerridge's The Hand And Flowers, and his desire to bring a Michelin star back to the Sir Charles Napier.

In this week’s episode of Grilled by The Staff Canteen, Editor Cara Houchen was joined by co-host Aaron Middleton, Chef and social media influencer, and his guest Andy Lewis, Head Chef of the Sir Charles Napier in Oxfordshire.

During the episode, the pair discussed everything from the last times the each cried to what they would do if they were the opposite sex for a day.


Andy Lewis is the Head Chef of the Sir Charles Napier restaurant in Oxfordshire, who started his career off working at the Macdonald Compleat Angler in Marlow, where he and the team won three AA rosettes for their kitchen prowess.

Following the win, it was long before Andy moved to Tylney Hall before then moving to Tom Kerridge’s two Michelin-starred The Hand and Flowers.

a life changing accident

During his time at the famed Tom Kerridge restuarant in Marlow, Andy was involved in a serious accident when a pressurised stock boiled exploded, covering him in two hundred litres of boiling stock.

Describing the accident, Andy explained: "On this particular night the stock boiler was leaking, and I've gone to check it out. This thing is under pressure, so it is rapidly boiling water. I'm in front of this thing, crouched down checking this tap and it's come off, the pressure has blown the tap off, which has fired a plume of boiling water into my torso."

“The adrenaline has kicked in, I've gone to run out of this kitchen, I'm holding on to worktops on either side, but it's like running on a treadmill; there's bones, there's vegetables, there's fat, there's waters all over the floor and this thing is still firing all this boiling water into now, my legs.”

The seriousness of the accident resulted in emergency services being called to the award-winning Tom Kerridge pub with Andy being sent immediately to hospital.

Explaining the extent of the physical damage, Andy said: "The male nurse that woke me up in the hospital explained to me what happened, he said they gave you enough ketamine to put down a horse because the morphine wasn't working. I was screaming to fuck, it was 35% burns and we're talking chest, stomach, this arm which how now actually healed really well. My legs and my feet, especially from the knees down and my feet are like really, really, really fucking burnt. I lost quite a few days of skin, I've been left in permanent nerve damage in my legs and feet."

Recovery for Andy following this traumatic injury was long, with the chef being out of work for 7 months and a great mental strain being placed upon him.

Reflecting on whether the accident changed his view on his time at The Hand and Flowers, Andy said: "I wouldn't say it's hindered my time at The Hand and Flowers. My entire time there I have greatly appreciated and enjoyed but on that particular night I got fucking destroyed. I also want to say while I was off Tom Kerridge was a true gentleman and he still has been today, he's been incredibly supportive, he paid me in full for my whole time off. I spoke to him the very next day after I was injured in a fit of tears, because I didn't know what I was going to do because I thought there and then my career was over, and he was just so supportive."


After 7 months off work, Andy finally returned back to work at The Hand and Flowers, thankful of the support shown by Tom, Aaron Mullis and others following the accident.

Explaining how he found returning to work, Andy explained: "When I got back to The Hand and Flowers on reduced hours, the first day I got back there they said 'this is what you are going to do you, you're going to work in the back kitchen'. I think it was the very next day that same stock boiler had leaked overnight, and the entire floor was covered in stock, and I just remember thinking is this it, is this what I've worked so hard to get back to,  is this is how I'm rewarded. Not like pointing the blame but the coincidence that I came back and the same things leaked all over the floor. It was literally when I went back to work that's when I started getting like PTSD."

At this point for Andy, whilst he had physically recovered, he realised he still hadn’t properly recovered mentally from the accident.

"Back then it was really fucking bad. I was really depressed; I feel sorry for my wife because I was not a nice person to be around. Even when I started working at the Napier I was still very upset,” he explained.

After speaking to therapists and friends, as well as a hard recovery to undertake, Andy managed to process the accident and continue with his life and career.

Explaining where he is now, Andy said: “I'm in a much better place now. I've talked about it many times but that's the incident. I still fucking love the Hand and Flowers, still love Tom, the whole team, that thing hasn't changed my opinion."

Transforming the Sir Charles Napier

Later in the podcast, talk turned to Andy and the work’s he’s undertaking at the Sir Charles Napier, where he’s effectively transformed the restaurant bringing in a new kitchen team and creating completely new food and drink offering.

Describing what the Sir Charles Napier was like upon joining, Andy said: "The place had a Michelin star, I think it Chris Godfrey who earned a Michelin star. I don't want to say it was in a sorry state when I took over but there was definitely room for improvement, and we had to work on that and we have been working on that."

"It's been very slow, very gradual, bit by bit, we're just trying to stay true to what we believe we should be serving in that environment in that building," he added.

Looking to the future, Andy aims to continue growing the Sir Charles Napier, encouraging younger chefs into the business, whilst also capitalising on accolades such as bringing a Michelin star back to the restaurant.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th June 2023

"I thought there and then my career was over"