Andrew Jones, Chamberlain's

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 26th May 2016
Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones discusses his role as Executive Chef at Chamberlain's and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Andrew Jones

Place of work: Chamberlain's

Role: Executive Chef

Bio: Having been the head Chef since 2011 Andrew has been in the industry for over 20 years, previously working at Claridge’s for 12 years and The Westbury before joining Chamberlain's; he also won the Roux Scholarship in 2004.

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @Chamberlainsldn 

See more about Chamberlain's here: www.chamberlainsoflondon.com

Chef Skills

Andrew Jones 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 the business?

I have been working as a Chef in London for just over 20 years now, but before that, I had worked in local restaurants. While at school I actually started working at the weekends with my dad - who was a Chef too.

When I was only 13 I would go with him at the weekend and start washing pots and pans, then moved on to peeling carrots and potatoes. Then, when I finished school, I went to college on a full-time course for two years but was still working in the evenings and at weekends. Then when I finished my college course, I was lucky to secure a job at Claridge’s.

Andrew Jones food

You have an incredibly prestigious history as a Chef. How would you advise people to go about trying to secure a job at high-class restaurants?

 When applying for a job, make sure that you have done your homework about the place you are applying to, have a good look at their website!  Your CV is important, so make sure it is well presented, has a covering letter and try to make it personal (the Chef’s name not just ‘Chef’). But that will only get your foot in the door!

 When you turn up for a trial you need to stand out from the crowd - but for the right reasons.  Don’t turn up with denim Chefs’ jackets and Chefs’ trousers with chillies printed all over them and make sure that your uniform is clean and well ironed! You want to stand out because of your attitude and energy in the kitchen; when you finish a job, don’t stand around waiting to be told what to do next - ask - and make sure that when you are working on trial your basic skills are as sharp as they can possibly be.  

It is the small things that are going to get you the job; how you chop an onion or shallot; how you chop the herbs - these will be looked at and scrutinised. Look at the Chefs working in the kitchen and try to copy the way they work. But the most important thing on that day itself is going to be your attitude and how you fit in that kitchen. I am a strong believer that skills can be taught, but you can’t teach someone the desire to come to work.   

What are the most important things you think people need to have in order to work their way to the top tier of the industry?

To work your way to the top tier of the industry there are many attributes needed, the main one being your skill as a Chef! But then you need to look at the dynamics of the kitchens you are working in; it is always going to be easier to work your way to the top of a small kitchen where there are only six or seven other Chefs, but this is going to limit your skills set as a Chef and a manager. You would never go from running a small restaurant to a large 5-star hotel, but you can go the other way. Also, this will impact the salary that you can command!

Chamberlain's

I worked in hotels where you have over 50 Chefs working and to work your way to the top tier you need to be that bit sharper. You are working with so much more Chefs each sharing the same goal as you! But it’s easy; all you need to do is when you wake up each day you say to yourself “I am the best - I am going to make a difference today!” Then go to work and work harder and faster than everyone around you. 

Learn as much as you can, read books - the internet is great and wasn’t around when I started out. Today if you need a recipe you can Google it straight away! When I started every Chef had a notebook and you would compile recipes. I always wanted to do my best in each position in the kitchen; if I was a commis, I wanted to be the best Commis in that kitchen. When it comes to attitude - again be organised - you want to stand out for the right reasons, and not be the Chef who is always 15 minutes late. 

Never be the one moaning about working too much or needing to change their rota every week as they forgot to request a day off. You must be positive, work hard, become a ‘sponge’ and absorb as much knowledge as possible. You need to know what’s going on; if there are parties know the numbers and the menu. Make sure your section is always clean, tidy and well organised. Always try and go that extra mile and cook to the best of your ability. And don’t be afraid to ask questions.  

You worked for "Michel Bras" in Laguiole, a renowned 3 Michelin star restaurant in France. How beneficial do you think working abroad would be for someone who was trying to get their foot in the door?

I would strongly recommend a Chef to travel and work abroad, but to do it at the right stage of your career. I think when you are first setting out you need to find a good kitchen to learn your basic skills so that when you do go abroad you have something that you can offer that kitchen.

Also when you go abroad you need to remember that it’s not just you that you're representing, but the perception of British Chefs and cooking as well.  

Andrew Jones fish dish

What sort of thing would you be looking for in the CV of someone who was applying to work with you?

 If a Chef were just starting out, I would look to see if they have had any part time jobs while at school and college. I am not that worried about the grades they achieved at school (I didn’t get any GCSEs above a D but school just wasn't for me) I would look at what work experience they have done. I  would look at the cover letter; is it a mass generic letter that has been sent to lots of restaurants, or is it personal to me and my restaurant?

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 26th May 2016

Andrew Jones, Chamberlain's