Aaron Potter, Senior Sous Chef, Trinity Restaurant

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 18th January 2017

Aaron Potter started work as an apprentice at Adam Byatt's Michelin starred Trinity Restaurant in Clapham when he was just 17 years old.

After he had completed culinary school at Bournemouth and Poole College, he went to work in North America before returning to Trinity to become senior sous chef there. The Staff Canteen spoke to Aaron about juggling his studies with work in the restaurant, why his relationship with Adam is so strong and why you have to enjoy the food you cook.

Aaron Potter, Trinity Restaurant, Clapham, senior sous chef, Adam Byatt, Michelin star, London restaurants

Aaron Potter, senior sous chef

at Trinity, Clapham

Why did you want to be a chef? Where did your interest in food start?

Growing up, my parents always cooked for the love of it and fed us well. They always generally opted for humble ingredients over luxurious ones, but this certainly left me open-minded and intrigued to try new things. My dad had a copy of Larousse Gastronomique along with a few books of that ilk, and from it he would make jambon persillé and rabbit terrines for family gatherings and festive times.

I obviously had an interest in food from very early on, but I would say my brother Sam was the reason why I decided to cook for a living. He trained under the specialised chefs scholarship, and it was really inspiring watching him cook and seeing someone really passionate about their work.

How did you get the Sous chef job, did Adam approach you personally?

It came about quite simply through me and Adam meeting for a coffee and a chat. I was working elsewhere at the time and things weren’t quite gelling for me personally or professionally. It felt like quite a natural and obvious choice for me to come to Trinity. I knew the food, the repertoire, and the team. It worked really well. Adam has always been big on promoting from within the company, so it’s been a natural progression for me to work my way up to the senior sous role that I’m in now. I now run the kitchen at Trinity on the day to day with the guidance of Adam, and the support of the two other sous chefs that have climbed the ladder into management roles along with me.

Info bar

Dream restaurant

Although I’ve got a fairly good idea of what I want my restaurant to be when I decide to go it alone, my mind changes often and my ideas for it evolve.

The food would always have its roots in the more classical side of cookery I would imagine, that’s what I know, that’s what I cook.

I would love a large area to bake all of our own breads and pastries daily.

 Dream brigade

Oh, I’ll just take everyone from Trinity thanks.

Trinity just received a Michelin star, how does it feel to be part of the team that received one?

 The feeling is quite indescribable. We are immensely proud of what we have achieved together as a team and it is greatly warming to be endorsed by a guide so well respected around the world.

Salt Caramel Custard Tart by Aaron Potter, senior sous chef, Trinity Restaurant, Clapham, Michelin star, Adam Byatt
Salt Caramel Custard Tart

What is it like working for Adam?

There’s certainly never a dull moment working for Adam. He’s hugely inspiring as a mentor, and obviously an incredibly talented cook with such immense passion for what he does. For me and the team it’s great to have someone like that as the Big Cheese. I’m fortunate enough to have a strong relationship with him that stemmed from when I was his apprentice. He mentors me professionally of course, but has also helped me on a personal level a number of times too.

>>> Related: 10 minutes with: Adam Byatt, Trinity, Bistro Union and Upstairs

 

What was it like juggling both school and such an intensive job?

You know what, this was something that I never struggled with because they felt very separate. The course I did consisted of a three month block at college, followed by a 12 month block at your chosen work placement. My work placement happened to be at Trinity with Adam. College was pretty intense in the sense that we crammed 12 months’ worth of studying into three months, there wasn’t really much time for work. And similarly, work was full-time. I was put on a section on my third day and left (with a lot of much-needed guidance) to run it. Not much time for writing essays. I think this worked really well for me because within each unique aspect of my training, I was able to become completely immersed in it.

What is your favourite item on the menu and why?

Aaron Potter, Trinity Restaurant Clapham, senior sous chef, Adam Byatt, Michelin star, London restaurants,

Aaron Potter, senior sous

chef at Trinity, Clapham

This is always a difficult question to answer. It’s like when someone you just met finds out you’re a chef and asks what your ‘signature dish’ is. But, we have a dish of crisp pork jowl, and the garnish for this dish gets tinkered around with every so often. We dry-brine the jowl with loads of spices that permeate the whole way through and then cook it overnight. Before service we slowly crisp the skin and render the fat. The crackling is flat, translucent and ridiculously crispy. It’s really delicious. The sauce gets finished with pickled lemon rind and some of the lemony pickling liquor to cut the fat of the jowl. Another high contender is our game terrine en croute.. but I’m not telling you our secrets.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Good question! I think this is the biggest struggle for anyone working in this industry. Working the hours we do doesn’t leave a huge amount left for play and it can be quite lonely. I try to plan in advanced as best I can, and try to leave work at work (TRY! easier said than done, I assure you). Luckily at Trinity we employ new team members based as much on individual character as much as on skill set. We’ve built a restaurant filled to the brim with truly wonderful people, so we all tend to socialise outside of work, even if it’s a quick beer after dinner service. 

What advice would you give to a young chef that wanted to achieve the same success you have?

It’s very nice of you to ask me that. I’m still a young chef myself! It’s simple really, do it because you love it. Eat everything, everywhere. Enjoy the food you cook. Learn to switch off.

Where do you see yourself in the future? Do you have any plans?

I have plans of course. But there is no true vision right now, just ideas really. Yes it’s a restaurant, and yes I have stars in my eyes for sure. However I’m in great company right now, we’re cooking great things and progressing a lot at the restaurant. Adam and I work really well together and I don’t see myself abandoning ship anytime in the near future.

  

>>> Read more in our Heroes of the Hot Plate series here

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 18th January 2017

Aaron Potter, Senior Sous Chef, Trinity Restaurant