Head Chef at 155 Bishopsgate
This week we catch up with Alan Palmer, Head Chef at etc.venues 155 Bishopsgate. What inspires him, what he enjoys…and what was his original career plan?
I live with my wife and son in Earlswood in Surrey – so we have a little bit of the country but only a short train ride away from the excitement of London.
I really think that using fresh seasonal ingredients are essential – both when you’re eating out and when you’re preparing food at home. We’re really lucky as we have a very productive allotment, which means we can enjoy a whole range of seasonal veg without having to step foot in a major supermarket! In fact one of my favourite things to do at home, is to throw open the cupboards and challenge myself to create something “from nothing” with just the latest from the allotment.
My favourite restaurants in London include “One O One” in Knightsbridge – the Chef Pascal Proyart, really cares about the story behind all the ingredients. I also really enjoyed The Clove Club in Shoreditch Town Hall (read my review on the etc.venues food blog and also celeb favourite Sketch the service here is always fantastic!
For something a little different (weather permitting) try Devonshire Square Market in the City – eat around the world in your lunch time and enjoy some fantastic live music too.
As my wife is from for the Czech Republic we visit there a lot – the quality of the restaurants is improving all the time, as Chefs train up in the UK and travel back home to start their own businesses. Brabander in Brno is one of our favourites as well as Vinarstvi U Kaplicky vineyard, a fantastic place for food and wine (we liked it so much we got married there).
When we’re not eating around the world, my little boy really enjoys the theatre – we recently saw the fantastic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and are regular visitors to Union Chapel in London which is a great live music venue.
Another of my favourite things is to go fishing – Salmon and Sea trout season is the last week of October in my native County Down on the Moneycarragh River. It’s one of the great joys, being able to catch fresh, wild fish and enjoy it cooked simply with a little butter and served up with fresh seasonal potatoes.
Funnily enough, being a Chef wasn’t my first choice of career! I originally studied GNVQ Advanced in Technical and Mechanical Engineering, but deep down I knew I wanted to be Chef (I was inspired by my Mum – who was also a Chef!). After switching vocations, I travelled as far afield as Norway and the USA to gain as much experience as possible, and when I returned to the UK I worked for celebrity chef Tony Tobin in acclaimed The Dining Room Restaurant in Reigate.
I then worked up through various venues to become Head Chef at etc.venues 155 Bishopsgate. Its wonderful to be challenged everyday and I get a real buzz out of feedback from our delegates – it’s a great feeling to be able to go back to your team and tell them all about how much people have enjoyed what they’ve worked so hard to produce.
I think my advice for anyone looking in to becoming Chef is simply this – it’s all about passion! Passion for ingredients, for creating something fantastic and for putting a smile on people’s faces. Work hard and set yourself goals and there’s no stopping you!
If you’re interested in joining the etc.venues team visit our “work for us” page to find out more.