Mark Sargeant: Top five tips on how to win National Chef of the Year 2014

The  Staff Canteen

Mark Sargeant is the owner of Folkestone restaurant Rock Salt,  which has two rosettes in the AA Restaurant Guide, and has picked up many awards including the title of National Chef of the Year 2006.

Mark spent three years working at Reads Restaurant in Faversham under David Pitchford, during which time the restaurant picked up its first Michelin star. In 1997, Mark began his well known working relationship with Gordon Ramsay and went on to help open Restaurant Gordon Ramsay as a sous chef.

He went on to become head chef at one of Gordon’s restaurants a few years later and the pair have released 12 books together. In June 2011 Mark Sargeant opened two restaurants in the coastal town of Folkestone in Kent. "Rocksalt" is the harbour-front restaurant and bar, while "The Smokehouse" is the fish and chip restaurant and takeaway, there are also four bijou "Rocksalt Rooms", fully equipped bedrooms. Mark won the Young National Chef of the Year crown in 1996 only to go on and win the senior prize 10 years later.

Here are his top five tips on how to approach the National Chef of the Year competition which is now open for entries again:

1 - Watch how you work: at all times you must work incredibly professionally, so work clean and tidily and show off your skills.

2 - Keep things simple: all the judges that I’ve ever worked with are always looking for simplicity but brilliance.

3 - Smile and enjoy yourself:  when you’re doing something like this it’s for the privilege and the enjoyment of doing the competition. Winning is a bonus. You’re in the semi-finals or the finals; be happy with that, relax, smile and enjoy yourself.

4 - Trust your commis: bring along a commis you work well with because they’ll be your right hand man who will prep, clean and be there with something that you need two minutes before you’ll need it.

5 - Don’t over practise: generally I would come up with an idea of something I would feel confident with then do one or two run-throughs, but you want to have some excitement at the time. You don’t want to just be replicating a run-through that you did perfectly a couple of weeks ago. You want some adrenaline and that kind of excitement you have during a service.

Just click on the links to see tips from other previous winners Simon Hulstone Hayden Groves and Alyn Williams

>>> Read more on National Chef of the Year here 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 7th March 2014

Mark Sargeant: Top five tips on how to win National Chef of the Year 2014