Member of the Month March 2023: Ben Smith

Alex South

Alex South


Here at The Staff Canteen, we feature a different member every month we think deserves to be celebrated - this month’s winner is Ben Smith, a Culinary Arts Management student and Part-time chef at Skandl Market, London. 

As thanks for being a regular contributor to The Staff Canteen, Ben will receive an item of TSC merch of their choosing, a TSC mug and will be entered in our Member of the Year 2023 competition. The Staff Canteen Member of the Month feature is brought to you in association with Major.

Current Place Of Work/Position?

I'm currently studying my bachelors in Culinary Arts at Westminster Kingsway College.

I have been working in kitchens since I was 15, starting as a KPO and now 20 years later I work for Skandl part-time whilst studying to get my BSc in culinary arts management.

I have one year left, with the aim of opening my own restaurant that specialises in small plates and natural wine.

What is your cooking style and what should people expect from the food on your menu?

My preferred style is seasonal small plates, using British seasonal ingredients and techniques from around the world. I try not to stick to one regional cuisine on one plate, but rather using multiple techniques and flavour combinations.

I try to keep it simple and let the quality of the ingredients sing loudly by showing respect and love to a great ingredient, and preparing it as best I can. 


What is your favourite dish to cook and why?

My favourite dish to cook would be something like a fresh pasta or a pie. I find it so relaxing to prepare, so rewarding to create and so tasty and comforting to eat.

I like to challenge myself and try new techniques but as I said, my favourite to cook is something humble like pasta with a carefully prepared sauce or a pie with a bone marrow chimney.

Those kinds of flavours and the feelings that come from that are why I wanted to be a chef from a young age. 


Name a food item/dish/ingredient that isn't considered "cheffy" but you love to eat?

So this may be controversial but since I was a kid, my grandmother would use corned beef a lot, usually form a can in pies, pasties and stews.

I still to this day look forward to eating a corned beef and potato pie cooked by my grandmother, served with baked beans.

Nostalgia at it's best! So comforting! 


What do you like about The Staff Canteen app and website?

I love the community feeling that I get from The Staff Canteen app, website and Instagram page. I remember my head chef from about 10 years ago using it and receiving the legendary mug.

I always wanted to be a part of that and I'm really happy to be member of the month for March. Chefs are proud and hardworking and it's an honour to be a part of this community. 


What are your plans for the future?

I have one year left on my degree, so that is my immediate priority.

I am currently working on a product that I've developed, a healthy instant ramen that contains 1 of your 5 a day and packed full of umami flavour, it's called Shlurp Noodles and you can find the page on Instagram.

There will be a website soon and I'm hoping to make it onto shelves across the country within the next couple of year but my main goal, and has been since I can remember, is to open my own restaurant.

Serving seasonal small plates, designed to share between a table, to get people talking about food and experiencing things as a group.

I hope I can achieve that by the time I'm 40 years old, 5 years from now. 


In your eyes, what can employers do to support younger chefs entering the industry?

I think we as an industry need to continue to move away from the "macho" tough guy mentality that seems to thrive in kitchens.

I see a lot of youngsters give up on hospitality because of the bullying, sexual harassment and lack of support to deal with mental health issues.

We've come a long way since I started but there is still work to do to make it an inclusive industry where anyone can feel safe and appreciated. This is when everyone can thrive and achieve greatness. 

If you want to feature in April's Instagram Top Ten, keep posting your great pictures on your TSC member's profile and using #thestaffcanteen on Instagram and we'll share the best!

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 3rd April 2023

Member of the Month March 2023: Ben Smith