Aaron Mulliss, The Hand and Flowers

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 2nd February 2017
Aaron Mullis

Aaron Mulliss discusses his role as Head Chef at The Hand and Flowers Role: Head Chef and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Aaron Mulliss

Place of work: The Hand and Flowers

Role: Head Chef

Bio: After watching his brother come home and make wonderful dishes Aaron was inspired to become a Chef. But, at the age of 18, he hung up his apron so that he could enjoy his social life. At 23 he jumped in the deep end by joining Restaurant Gordon Ramsey but left after three days. He soon got another job at a french bistro owned by a friend of Tom Kerridge. From here Aaron discovered the Hand and Flowers where he entered the garnish section. No later than three years after working there, he was bumped up to Head Chef.

Follow Aaron on Twitter @Chez_Daz

Chef Skills

Aaron Mulliss takes us through his personal experiences whilst being in the Culinary Industry. These key skills that young Chefs and industry professionals learn as part of their basic training.

Do you think enough people are encouraged to teach?

For young people to be able to succeed in the kitchen you need people with a kitchen background in order to teach them. If I was a student, for example, and my lecturer had just been a lecturer and had no experience within the industry, in a restaurant or hotel e.t.c, I would say you’re not going to necessarily look up to them. You need to be in the industry in order to teach them.

When I was at college everyone wanted to cook and be Chefs in a restaurant, not necessarily teach or be lecturers but after being in the industry that avenue’s available to you. 

What made you become a Chef?

My brother used to be a Chef when I was at school and he'd come home doing all these fancy bits and pieces back in the day when tomato roses and cucumber fans and all that business was in fashion – it probably wasn’t in fashion but where he was doing it I thought it was. I got a job as a kitchen porter. I didn’t last very long because I cut myself on the first day. I just got the bug of the camaraderie, the bug of the kitchen and the adrenaline of service more so than the food, I mean, the love of food came later. The more you're exposed to good produce and amazing restaurants that comes with it. Initially, it was through my brother and the buzz of the kitchen environment. 

What do you like most about your job?

The team, being able to put smiles on people's faces, customers. I mean customers are waiting, guests are waiting ten, twelve months to eat with us and that’s a massive responsibility. They're waiting this long to spend two hours in our company and to be able to make sure everything’s right and for them to go away thinking it was worth the wait. You get a massive buzz from that.

Generating our peers to build a team of 19 Chefs who work altogether and have galvanised and move forward are a bigger part of it as I am. It’s a massive buzz. 

My job entails looking after 19 Chefs. At The Hand and Flowers we are people. We've got a team of 19 boys and girls who all work well together and it’s about keeping morale going. It's not just about the food, my day is as much about looking after the staff than it is the food.  Okay, yeah, we call through the orders every day, we conduct service, we do mise en place. For me, whether it’s prepping the fish, the meat on the pass or speaking to the suppliers, keeping the relationship with those going. One thing I’ve learnt from Tom is it’s about building relationships, maintaining relationships and whether that’s with Andy the meat man, Johnny the fish man or Mark Morris it’s being personal, being able to build relationships, maintain relationships. That’s as important as conducting a service.

My day-to-day is: I get in, we get in we prep the meat and the fish, we speak to suppliers then 12 o’clock comes. Service goes on until about 4.30 then it will be a case of a bit more mise en place. Service again ringing through the orders. Maintaining standards and consistency is a massive part of my role. It's never ending. Fixing things that are broken. 

What would you advise for someone looking to follow in your footsteps?

I would say as a young Chef the most important thing to do is to listen. I think that’s a huge quality. They have to be able to learn from mistakes, be able to almost be a sponge – you have to absorb as much as you can. Not to be a journeyman, what I mean by that is floating from restaurant to restaurant. If you look at a young persons CV and they’ve done six months here, four months there, eight months there, I’d rather look at someone who’s done two years, 18 months and that’s stuck at a place to actually learn and be fully exposed to that environment. To be able to stay somewhere for two years is a lot more of a challenge that floating from restaurant to restaurant. The more you do that, the harder you’ll find it to secure a decent job in the future.

Don’t be put off by the long hours and unsociable aspect. I was when I was a young Chef. I stopped cooking at 18 years old until I was 23 because I wanted to go out and party. I find myself extremely fortunate that I’ve been able to, after that period, be where I am. I consider myself extremely lucky. 

If you could go back and do anything differently, would you?

No, I wouldn’t because I am a massive believer in ‘everything happens for a reason’. If didn’t leave catering at 18, maybe that was a too long a period of being out of the trade but if I didn’t I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be where I am now. I worked at restaurant Gordon Ramsey for three days, if I would have actually got some bollocks and stayed there I wouldn’t be where I am now.

Everyone's career path and everyone's journey in life’s different. You’ve got to do what’s right for you as a person. As a young Chef, you need to find a space that suits your personality to enable you to grow. Personally, no, I wouldn’t change a thing.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 2nd February 2017

Aaron Mulliss, The Hand and Flowers