A star in the kitchen

A star in the kitchen

Since he was 15, Michelin-starred Chef John Wood knew exactly what he wanted to do. And the moment he entered a professional kitchen, all he wanted to do was to learn as much as he possibly could and learn from the best hotels, restaurants, chefs, and managers in the world. Chef John is not 15 anymore. But he is certainly one of the most experienced chefs in the business.

From a commis chef, a chef de partie to an executive sous chef to an executive chef to a culinary director, John has risen through the ranks steadily. He's been a part of many five-star establishments such as The Savoy (UK), Island Shangri-La (Hong Kong), and has even worked at the only seven-star hotel in the world, Burj-Al-Arab. What more, he used all this incredible experience of 30 years to create a comprehensive F&B portal called Kitchen CUT in 2012. Recently, John was one of the judges of the famed Young Chef Olympiad, the world's largest culinary competition for hospitality students. In an exclusive interaction, John spoke about how to run a successful restaurant, importance of a Michelin star, and more:

In recent times, competitions and platforms like the Young Chef Olympiad are a dime a dozen. What's your take on them?

There are plenty of high-end professional chef competitions. I don't think there is enough publicity of these competitions and we should be celebrating the chefs of today and tomorrow as much as we can.

You have worked in some of the best restaurants in the world for over two decades. What are the major lessons you have learnt in these kitchens?

You are only as good as your team and your team is only as good as you make and let them be. The only way to end up working as an exec chef of the best hotel in the world is by hard work, commitment and dedication. I worked 90-110 hours a week for 35 years (that is equivalent to 70 years in a normal job!).

How important is a Michelin star to a chef?

When I was 34 years old, it was one of my primary focuses. It was important for the team, the business as well as for me and gaining that has opened many doors since.

What does it take to run a successful restaurant?

Location, research, the right concept for the clientele and make sure you cook for your customers and not your ego!

Anybody and everybody is a food critic these days. What do you, as a chef, have to say about it?

Over the years, cooking has become 'rock and roll' and from that, the TV has exploded with so many cookery programmes, which has made the restaurant industry grow at alarming rates. Customers are more educated and have a far greater knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. My take on this if you are good and you understand your customers' needs and you deliver that consistently then - 'Bring on the new critics.'

Tell us a little bit about 'Kitchen CUT'. What prompted you to create this platform?

Having worked extensively in the industry as a chef, F&B director, and consultant, I have been exposed to most of the systems used in the industry. I found these legacy systems, slow, clunky and difficult to use. Kitchen CUT is a unique cloud-based F&B management system that takes all the daily grind of administration in the kitchen and restaurant and makes it fun and easier. Making the teams have more time to do the great stuff like being creative and working with the teams and spending more time with their customers.

What would be your advice for aspiring chefs?

Set your targets high, work hard and learn as much as you can about all aspects of being a chef. Having great culinary skills makes you a great cook, understanding how to make money from food and fully understand what else makes a successful restaurant makes you a chef!

 

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