Russell Brown, Sienna Restaurant

The Staff Canteen
Russell Brown

Russell Brown discusses his role as Chef proprietor at Sienna Restaurant and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Russell Brown

Place of work: Sienna Restaurant

Role: Chef proprietor

Bio: Russell Brown is Sienna’s Chef proprietor, a restaurant with one Michelin star, three AA rosettes and has been awarded in the Good Food Guide 2014 and Hardens Restaurant Guide 2014. His passion is seasonal and wholesome produce.

Follow Russell on Twitter here: @SiennaDorset

How long have you been in this role?

11 years.

Progression in the catering industry can be rapid but is also very varied. To reach the very top is almost certainly going to take 10-15 years from entering the industry. The key is to gain a wide variety of experience in all areas of the kitchen, not forgetting the pastry.

It is good to work in different sizes and types of business. Even if you end up in a small kitchen having some banqueting experience is valuable. It is also important to gain some managerial experience and to remember that a big part of a head Chef role is budgets, health and safety, liaising with other departments, staff management and marketing. The cooking itself is nearly always the simple part.

Top five tips:

Russell Brown food
  • Be very clear about the hard work and dedication required.
  • Don’t expect to be the next Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay, the chances are remote.
  • Become a Chef because you love the craft of cooking. If you can get job satisfaction from doing the repetitive and routine tasks, filleting fish, cleaning mushrooms, boning out saddles of lamb, this will make your day to day job much more satisfying.
  • Don’t be in too much of a hurry to progress, take your time to master the craft, develop your skills and knowledge.
  • Make each job move part of the progression towards your ultimate goal, moving for money or status is often a mistake!

Gaining experience:

This depends very much on the sector of catering that you are interested in. It doesn't have to be about Michelin stars and other accolades. Eat out, network, read, and know your industry. The biggest asset you have is probably your existing head Chef. If you are looking to move on talk to them. Not only is this courteous but your Chef will have access to a network of other Chefs and should be willing to help you find your ideal job.

Work Stages are a good way of experiencing different kitchens, the investment of your time will be worthwhile. For me the key people in the UK at the moment who I would want to work with are Tom Kerridge, Michael Caines, Nathan Outlaw, Paul A Young and Claire Clark. This is a diverse list but reflects my personal areas of interest and is as much about the businesses that these Chefs are involved in as the cooking itself. You have to tailor the experience to your interests and goals.


Russell Brown main dish

Accurate and honest, your CV is a sales tool. Don't leave unexplained gaps in your CV and yes it does matter that the grammar and spelling are good, this is as much an indication of attitude as anything else. Take the time to do your research. I will ask what do you know about Sienna and “not much” isn't a great answer!

We always do working trials and they will include taste tests, tests to check basic numeracy and literacy as well as jobs to check craft skills. A working trial should be as much about you finding out if the position is right for you. The only job I ever took without doing a trial was a huge mistake, the interview was good, the Chef a great guy but within 24 hours of starting I knew it was a mistake. I was seduced by a big salary and a promotion but the food quality was depressingly poor.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th March 2017

Russell Brown, Sienna Restaurant