Appetite for a cooking career
Published: 01 Mar 2016
Name: Richard Yearnshire
Job title: Executive head chef
Company: The Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel and Spa
I usually get up at 7.30am and tend to skip breakfast, but always have a strong coffee to kick-start my day. I always watch the news to keep up-to-date with current affairs, and then head out to work usually arriving at Ardoe at around 10am.
I am a very process driven person with a checklist for everything to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity each day.
A typical day always begins with a check on breakfast followed by a full kitchen walk around and inspections of all the fridges and work surfaces. I then check on deliveries to ensure all ingredients required for the day have arrived and are the correct spec. Once I have done all of this I usually have a chance to check over my emails.
At Ardoe, my kitchen team is responsible for cooking dishes for the award-winning Blairs restaurant and Soapies Bar, along with any food required for corporate functions and weddings, which means it is essential for myself or one of my sous chefs to attend a morning briefing to hear about the day’s events at the hotel, what is expected from my team and if there is any special requests. I then brief the whole of the kitchen team, and carry out a daily bite sized training session for 10 minutes as part of the continual development of my staff.
I will follow the journey of any functions that we are doing ensuring that the best possible standards are delivered. Taking time for a lunch break is very rare, as I am busy throughout the day, and when I feel hungry I will eat something on the go.
My day is then usually a mix of group and individual briefings on the business of the day and week ahead.
Being a modern executive chef these days, is not just about the cooking, it’s also about good training and development of your team to ensure consistency and greater standards, and at the same time it is essential to keep my staff continually motivated and inspired.
We change the menus in Blairs restaurant and Soapies throughout the year, and creating a new menu takes a lot of time and effort. I am passionate about the farm to fork ethos, and the newest menu at Ardoe has been developed on this basis. To give my staff a better understanding, I took them out of the comfort of the kitchen at Ardoe on a number of site visits. During our travels we spent time at a number of different locations including a fishing boat and a pig farm – giving a better understanding of where our produce comes from.
Presenting the food to bosses is always an exciting moment for me, and I enjoy talking them through my ideas and inspiration for each new dish – we now have Aberdeen exclusivity on Highland Wagyu beef, and I loved creating new dishes with the succulent meat – all of which got the full stamp of approval.
Budget control, and ensuring stocks and wastage are kept at the right levels are all top priorities. I also attend regular operations meetings on a daily basis.
Cooking and preparations are carried out to the strictest of controlled kitchen hygiene practices. My role also involves me working on a daily basis with our suppliers, ordering and checking stock levels, and ensuring the best quality of produce is used at all times. My role is very challenging, and trying to keep all the balls in the air is a real juggling act, ensuring I am balancing everything in the kitchen correctly.
My day always ends by controlling the service pass for the Blairs restaurant and Soapies Bar, or sending a function and ensuring that I oversee all the food items leaving the kitchen.
I try to finish for around 10pm latest each day, and then get home and unwind for a couple of hours before it all starts again.