Chefs 2016

Lorna McNee

Lorna comes from a very small village in the north of Scotland called Dallas. Whilst still at school she washed dishes in a local busy family run Italian restaurant called Little Sicily serving Italian and Mediterranean food, nothing fancy but very good food cooked by a talented chef.

The head chef kept encouraged her to take up cooking and after finally tooking his advice Lorna started studying Hospitality at Moray College in Elgin. It was then she also stopped washing dishes and started prepping food and dressing starters in Little Sicily.

Nearing the end of my 3 years at college she was hoping to get a full time position at the Michelin Starred Boath House in Nairn but unfortunately they were fully staffed but I went in on my days off unpaid to gain more experience.

Determined to work at a Michelin Starred restaurant, a lecturer organised dinner at Andrew Fairlies and a 3 day work experience for her. Following this great opportunity Lorna spoke with Chef Andrew and explained her reasons for wanting to work alongside him – not having a lot of fine dining experience, he was not too keen to hire her. However she managed to persuade him and within 6 months Lorna admits to making more mistakes than she cares to remember. However 8 years on, she is still there and is no sous chef within a team and now teaching the younger generation.

Last year Lorna entered and won The Game Chef of the Year.

Mark Sargeant

At a young age Mark Sargeant discovered that cooking, and cooking well, was something that came naturally, that excited him, gave him a sense of ambition and a future. Growing up in the heart of the Kent countryside meant that there was always different fresh fruit and vegetables available at the beginning of each new season, local meat and fish from around the Kent coast for Mark to experiment in the kitchen with.

Mark’s first job after graduating from college was at Boodles Gentleman’s Club in St James’ London, working with Keith Podmore. This was a great introduction to traditional British food and an ideal training ground for the young chef. Leaving the heights of the city, Mark returned to Kent to work at Reads Restaurant in Faversham under the instruction of David Pitchford; during his 3 years as Sous Chef at the restaurant, Reads gained its first Michelin Star.
Back to London and a new position at Le Soufflé Restaurant at the Hyde Park Hotel where Mark worked with the late Peter Kromberg. He worked at the establishment for 18 months and whilst there, worked at Chez Nico on Park Lane on his one day off each week.

It was at his next position working with Steven Terry at Oliver Peyton’s Coast Restaurant that Mark Sargeant won Young Chef of the Year in 1996. It was also here that he met Gordon Ramsay and then started to work with the ambitious chef in February 1997 at Aubergine. Along with the rest of the Aubergine team, Mark went on to open Restaurant Gordon Ramsay as Sous Chef and stayed there for 4 years, during which time the restaurant won its 3 Michelin Stars.
In the late 1990’s Mark’s talent and dedication to the job was rewarded with the appointment of Head Chef at the new Gordon Ramsay at Claridges in 2001. Here, Mark not only gained a Michelin Star a year later, but was also awarded the title of Chef of the Year in 2002.

Mark ‘Sarge’ Sargeant was Head Chef for 7 years during which he also instigated the opening of Ramsay’s three new pubs, The Narrow, The Warrington and The Devonshire, and was also instrumental in the opening of Foxtrot Oscar.
Throughout his 13 years with Gordon Ramsay, Mark was responsible for all of his media activities and co-authored his 12 books, wrote regular columns for the Times Magazine, Olive and BBC Good Food magazines, as well as assisting with the production of his television work both in the UK and abroad.

In June 2011 Mark Sargeant opened two restaurants in the coastal town of Folkestone in Kent. ‘Rocksalt’ is the harbour-front restaurant and bar, while ‘The Smokehouse’ is the fish and chip restaurant and takeaway, there are also four bijou ‘Rocksalt Rooms’, fully equipped bedrooms. Rocksalt has won a string of awards including 84th best restaurant in the Restaurant Magazine top 100 uk restaurants 2013, Best Restaurant in Kent 2014, 5th best restaurant by the sea in the Times magazine, 2 AA Rosettes and 4 AA stars for Rocksalt Rooms.

Mark’s first cookbook, ‘My Kind of Cooking’, was published in October 2011 by Quercus. Mark has presented Saturday Cookbook, ITV’ flagship Saturday morning cookery show, and also regularly appears on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, ITVs This Morning and Food Network UK shows. Mark was delighted to have been chosen to create exclusive menus for Royal Ascot 2012 and is going to heads up the food at the London Salon Priveé.
In 2013 Mark opened Plum and Spilt Milk, GNH Bar and Kiosk at the Great Northern Hotel in Kings Cross. This hotel has recently undergone a £45m refurbishment and Mark will be working as Chef Director overseeing all F&B outlets.
Mark worked with ISS UK who are the industry leaders in facilities management, consulting on menus, food development and staff training. He also worked with ISS Education going to schools around the country and teaching children of various ages about food and eating well. This relationship lasted 4 years and ended amicably in December 2015.

Mark has recently signed an exciting deal with WSH to work closely with all their brands and also work on a new project. Details will follow soon.
Mark is the brand ambassador for Knorr and also the ambassador for the Young National Chef of the Year Competition.
Mark has recently joined forces with Brakes and will be working closely with them on Brand development and training.

Alongside this Mark has worked with various brands promoting their produce including EBLEX Beef and Lamb, Bowmore whisky, Fresh herb Company, De'Longhi, Lion Brand eggs, Magimix and The Groovy food company, Mr. Bo Jangles chocolates as well as doing promotional work with Cyprus potatoes for Tesco.

Mark has also opened his first pub in the picturesque village of Kent, Ickham called the Duke William.
Mark has recently partnered with American Airlines designing menus for all premium cabins flying from Heathrow to all US destinations.

Tom Aikens

Tom Aikens moved to London to work at Cavalier’s 1 * when he was 19, then to The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge with Philip Britten 1*.

Aged 21, Tom worked as Chef de Partie with Pierre Koffman at 2* La Tante Claire, and during this period the restaurant earned its 3rd *.

In 1993, Tom was appointed Sous Chef at the 2 * Pied à Terre in Charlotte Street, working with Richard Neat.

In 1994 he moved to France at restaurant Joël Robuchon in Paris 3* and a year at 3 * Gérard Boyer Les Crayères.

Back to London in1996, aged 26 he returned to Pied à Terre as Head Chef where he maintained the 2*star becoming the youngest British chef to achieve this accolade. Tom left after 5 years returning to La Tante Claire as Head Chef, then on a farm for Daylesford Organic.

In 2003, Tom Aikens Restaurant opened in Chelsea, Tom’s Kitchen Chelsea opened in November 2006 and Somerset house 2010. Canary Wharf June 2013 and Istanbul December 2013. He has opened two restaurants in Hong Kong called the Pawn and Fat pig and in Dubai pots pans and boards.

Tom has published 3 books, Tom Aikens Cooking: FISH and Tom Aikens Easy. He has also made several appearances on Television reaching the final banquet at last year’s Great British menu on BBC2, he has appeared on Saturday and Market Kitchen as well.

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