The Staff Canteen spoke to Russell Bateman to find out what makes the man tick

The  Staff Canteen
Russell Bateman, National Chef of the Year 2014, grew up in West London and fell in love with food at an early age, enjoying his Grandmother’s cooking and home-grown vegetables. “Well, it’s a long time ago but I always loved eating food when I was a kid,” Russell said. “My Nan used to cook home- made bread. I always loved going to her house and getting freshly cooked food.” Dingley Dell's Russell would go to his Grandparents straight after school and fondly remembers the tastes of freshly made bread. He said:“I enjoyed the food cooked by my Nan and that encouraged me to work with food.” Russell has worked with the likes of Paul Dunstane, Mark Poynton, Tim Johnson, Nico Ladenis, Daniel Clifford, Aiden Byrne and more. These are all top chefs and Russell certainly appreciates the impact they’ve had on his career: “Obviously everyone I’ve worked for have been hugely influential. I’ve worked with some of the best chefs in the country so they’ve had a massive influence on me.” When asked if their influence is reflected in his work today Russell added: “Yes, 100%. Elements of all of them.” Like many chefs of his generation, Russell was inspired by the legendary Roux brothers. ‘The Beatles of gastronomy’ as Heston Blumenthal dubbed them, certainly left their mark. “I used to watch the Albert Roux and Michel Roux programme when I was a kid,” said Russell. White Heat “Firstly, it was hilarious but it was also really educational. They used to bicker and it was quite fun to watch but they were so good at what they were doing.” Marco-Pierre White’s ‘White Heat’ certainly has a lot to answer for. The book has inspired many of today’s top chefs with Sat Bains and Tom Kerridge known admirers. Russell is no different. He said: “The first time White Heat came out, I knew then that being a chef was what I wanted to do.” Russell is obviously an excellent chef, as this week’s ‘Chef of the Year’ award proves, but we wanted to know a bit more about Russell Bateman the man. Russell is your archetypal mod: he’s a huge fan of London four-piece The Rifles and the ‘Modfather’ himself, Paul Weller. Smart-dress and good music is a must and he is also thinking of investing in a new scooter to further the mod image. “I used to have one of each,” he said, when asked if he had a Vespa or Lambretta. “I got knocked off a few years ago and haven’t got back on since but that’s all about to change.” Russell went further, saying that mod culture fits well with being a chef. modHe said: “I suppose one of the ethics of mod culture is clean-living in difficult circumstances. I think that, when you’re a young chef, this applies as well. You’re working really hard, you’re working long hours, you’re always exhausted, you don’t get paid very well but you have a clean-living life because otherwise you burnout.” Being a chef is demanding and the hours are hard but in his spare time, Russell follows his beloved QPR. Last year’s promotion bid has delighted Russell in more ways than one. As the hoops are now playing Premier League football, home fixtures are often played on Sundays when he’s not working. “I love them, you can’t help it. The restaurant’s not open on Sundays so I have the chance to see them,” he said. “We won’t be in the Premiership for long though so that’ll soon stop.” There may be hope yet, it’s still early days but Russell isn’t hopeful, adding: “It’s nailed on, let’s be honest.” Russell has two great loves in this world, food and music. So, what would it be? Music or food? Clearly it wasn’t as difficult a question as we thought, the answer was a simple one: “Food," he said. "One hundred percent!” By Tom Evans
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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th October 2014

The Staff Canteen spoke to Russell Bateman to find out what makes the man tick