John Hooker, The Cornish Arms

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 23rd February 2017
John Hooker

John Hooker discusses his role as Chef proprietor at The Cornish Arms, Tavistock and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: John Hooker

Place of work: The Cornish Arms, Tavistock

Role: Chef proprietor

Bio: John Hooker and his wife Emma both run Devon's The Cornish Arms where their aim is to cook with the seasons and use classic combinations with big hearty flavours; using the South West's best ingredients. John has held 3AA Rosettes, featured in the Good Food Guide and competed on BBC 2’s Great British Menu in 2010 and 2011.

Follow John and Emma on Twitter here: @CornishArmsTavy

Chef Skills

John Hooker 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.

How long have you been in this role?  

Two years.

What made you decide you wanted to own a pub?

Going back to my roots really, I started off in a pub and then moved on to some fine dining establishments. It was a pub in my hometown and I felt I could make it like somewhere that I would want to spend my time in. We’ve got a great mix of food and drink and it is accessible for anyone to come along, whether it be those wanting fine dining food or a more relaxed drink after work. That’s what a Great British Pub should be like, and it works, we are extremely busy!

What experience and how many years would someone need in order to progress to the top level of the industry?

 It’s like building a house, you have to have a great foundation to build it from. I think sometimes in this industry nowadays everyone wants to be a  sous Chef before they’ve done their apprenticeship, you need to be around good people and learn basic skills first. You need to give about five to ten years graft before you can make your own stamp and find your own style.

What are your ultimate top five tips for someone looking to start a career in the hospitality sector?

1. Expect to be tired!

2. You will have to work hard

3. What you put in is what you get out

4. Be prepared to work really long hours

5. You will have to make sacrifices, but it is worth it

Who are the key Chefs and restaurants that somebody should be speaking to and trying to gain experience within the pub trade?

There is room for everybody, pubs are accessible. You’ve got people doing great things like Tom Kerridge with the Coach and Josh Eggleton at the Pony and Trap. People like that are spearheading our industry not only as Chefs but as very good pub owners.

What are you looking out for on a CV or in an interview if someone is applying to work for you?

All I’m looking for are good human beings who are trustworthy and want to work hard. Sometimes you get people who have worked in Michelin starred restaurants and really good places, and some don’t have much experience at all, but half of it is attitude and learning. There is a place for everyone, not everyone can be a Michelin starred Chef but there are some unsung heroes in the industry doing really great food, and the foundation is to do whatever you are doing properly. The key is growth and development I think.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 23rd February 2017

John Hooker, The Cornish Arms