The life of a development chef. Where do I begin?
After so many years spent working in restaurant kitchens, I admit stepping into a development kitchen involved plenty of adjustment.But now, I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
Working 9-5 obviously has its benefits, especially after so long working ridiculous hours in hot kitchens for people like Marco Pierre White (but what a blast that was!).
But that’s not the reason I like development work so much.
What I like is coming up with a dish that will not be enjoyed by a few dozen people in a restaurant, but by millions of people across the UK, even though they will never know it was me who made it (after all you will never hear supermarket shoppers asking to give compliments to the chef!).
It’s also the challenge of getting that dish in front of so many people in the first place.
We get many briefs from our supermarket customers and you know that out of dozens of things we make, perhaps only a handful will pass this first stage. Then, you need to refine the dish further to meet the exact needs of that client, e.g. less salt, more filling etc.
But alongside this, you also need to think about how this amazing dish you have created can be produced on a much larger scale. This involves close liaison with the production team because at the end of the day if it won’t work in the factory, it won’t work at all.
I still get a buzz when I see our products on supermarket shelves, the only problem is the family shopping trips now take much longer. I drive my kids wild by spending hours (well not quite that long) in the chilled aisles looking at our products in their packaging, but also our competitors and thinking how did they make that?
In the past, development work may have been regarded as an easier option for a chef, but as someone who has been on both sides of the fence, I don’t think this is the case any longer.
You only have to look at some of the high-profile chefs like Heston Blumenthal, Sat Baines and Tom Aikens, all of whom have their own development kitchens.
If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me!