From discovering his love for food at the other side of the world to being judged by the British Sandwich Association, find out how Bean Loved’s Head Chef’s real passion to work as a chef started right here in Skipton.
When did your Bean Loved journey begin?
Over 5 years ago. I joined the Bean Loved team back in 2014.
Where did your cooking career take off?
From school and a brief spell of working locally, I headed off on my travels to Australia and that’s where I discovered different styles of cuisine as I was travelling around the country. This sparked my interest in food and I wanted to learn more. I then returned to the UK and began an Apprenticeship with Skipton Golf Club gaining qualifications in Professional Cookery. After 5 Years, I then wanted to take the next step and that’s when I began my time at Bean Loved.
Why Bean Loved – what drew you here?
Being a small, family-run business really appealed to me. That together with the style of food on offer – freshly made, home-cooked and locally sourced – I always wanted to work somewhere that produced this kind of food in this way.
Do you remember when your passion for food really took hold?
Being in Australia made me realise that I wanted to move forward with food as a career…..but it wasn’t until I was back in Skipton and in particular when I started at Bean Loved – that’s when I realised this was definitely what I wanted to pursue with a passion and that this could be a lifelong career for me.
Did you always see yourself as Head Chef, running this kitchen?
I think the more I worked here, the more I wanted to develop my skills as a chef and as time went on, being Head Chef was something I thought I could aspire to.
What do you love about being Head Chef at Bean Loved?
Definitely the creativity – the fact that I can come up with ideas that will have full backing and support. And in generating these ideas, I get the opportunity to work with local suppliers such as Drake and Macefield, literally two doors away, and our Fish Mongers – creating dishes from ingredients that are local and in season. I also love to expand my own knowledge, keeping a close eye on key trends as well as helping the business move forward and being part of a local food industry community.
In the time you’ve been at Bean Loved, do you have any stand out moments?
I think developing the menu is always a stand out time for me at Bean Loved – producing specials and seeing them succeed as customer favourites, in particular, is a personal achievement for me. Also, the cooking demonstrations that I’ve done are a key stand out moment – e.g. the summer barbecue and Christmas food demonstrations where the response was really positive from customers. Being highly commended in the semi-finals of the British Sandwich Association was also a really encouraging time for me – it has not only built my confidence but has given me more industry knowledge and with the positive feedback and comments from the judges, has definitely made me want to compete again and hopefully win!
How do you think customers describe the food at Bean Loved?
I think they would describe the food as good, honest food – well cooked with great flavour combinations and good value too. I think they’d also say that the food isn’t just ordinary, there’s a twist to it too – everything we do has something extra special, all focused on the ingredients we use and the way we prepare and cook it.
So what’s next in the kitchen?
Developing new menus is really key as well as continually developing the team to keep producing the quality of food we deliver. Changing the menus every 12 months means we need to constantly be on point in terms of what we offer and I want us to stay highly ranked in terms of a coffee bar in North Yorkshire serving food. Bean Loved has an excellent reputation for coffee and I want the same reputation to be developed and maintained for food – being right up there with the best.
What do you aspire to as Bean Loved’s Head Chef?
I want the business to keep growing – I’d like, in time, to be able to look back and say that I helped take the kitchen to the next level – that it’s in a better place than when I started. I’d like to keep on being creative and keep enhancing my knowledge of food and discover the next dishes I can dive into – exploring new ideas and keep on impressing the customers!
Finally, Alistair, do you have any role models that have helped you on your food journey?
Yes, certainly the first Head Chef I worked with at Skipton Golf Club – who was a bit harsh but fair and helped build me and my career to where I am now. And most certainly Steve Bond here at Bean Loved has been a great role model for me – both in trusting me to be creative but also inspiring and guiding me to do things well – my passion and love for food really did come to life when I started here at Bean Loved.