Words of Advice ~ John Campbell

This edition of the ‘5Questions‘ comes from a chef who has recently featured on the Chef Hermes Blog with his recent move to his consultancy role at Coworth park. John Campbell’s star was first on the rise on his appointment to Lords of the Manor in 1997 from the then BBC Residential Training  Center, Wood Norton. Retaining the hotel’s Michelin star & three AA rosette status, Mr Campbell then set about moving the hotel forward as a foodie destination. With the launch of his book in 2001 and the promotion to four AA rosettes (putting the hotel in the top 20 eateries) it wouldn’t be long before he would be moving on to pastures new. In 2002 the call came from the owner of Classic FM, Sir Peter Michael about the vacant role at his luxury hotel in Berkshire, The Vineyard. This was the platform that many believed would push Mr Campbell into the higher echelons of culinary royalty.

The list of accolades & awards that Mr Campbell has accrued over time is staggering, earning him the tag line of ‘The Cerebal Chef ‘ from the reviews of his book ‘Formulas for Flavour’ in 2001. Some of awards and achievements to date include:

  • Caterer & Hotelkeeper Acorn award 1998
  • 2 Michelin Stars, The Vineyard 2007-2009
  • BSc diploma in International Culinary Arts 1999
  • Craft Guild of Chefs’ Restaurant Chef of the Year 2006

A significant part of the ‘John Campbell’ package is about training & nurturing new talent. Along with his continuing partnership with contract caterer Baxter Storey where he has an academy for chefs he also identifies new talents & encourages them to press forward with their ambitions. Notable successes are Nathan Outlaw (who now has 2 Michelin stars of his own) & the highly respected Anthony Flynn in Leeds.

As part of the opening PR push for Coworth Park, The Dorchester Collection sent out a this YouTube film promoting Mr Campbell at Coworth Park & where he constructs a dish, with all the ingredients coming from within 10 miles of the hotel.

And so to the ‘5Questions‘.

1.   What would be your best piece of advice for a fresh face school leaver who is obsessed with ‘Food Porn’ looking to get into the industry?

My advice would be to be prepared to work hard, there is alot more to cooking at the highest level than just understanding ingredients, it takes great skill to achieve the high gastronomic accolades, organisation, professional behaviour, commerce/finance, trends – it is a big challenge with many great opportunities, if you don’t find a kitchen that has respect for each other and runs in a professional manner then there are plenty of others that are – the new movement of kitchen environments will reflect the new behaviours otherwise our industry will grind to a halt, they are out there, this is where you will learn the most!!  Be prepared for all food types, read books on classic methods as this will be the foundation of all you cuisines moving forward, and most importantly enjoy every day!!

2.   What qualities are you looking for in your more junior chefs when recruiting new staff?

Just attitude, with a great positive attitude the skill set can be built, if the attitudinal foundation is not balanced and not positive then the skill will last stack!!

3.   Would you recommend that staff do stages & how do people get to do a stage with you?

I would recommend them certainly, they are a great top up and an insight in to other methods of cookery, running a kitchen and food styles, this will open your mind to the true possibilities that the industry offers, it will enrich your proposition when you get in to the senior ranks and give you the edge.  If any chef would like to stage at the restaurant here they just apply in writing, we reply to all after they have completed an online questionnaire, most are successful and have gone on from a long term stage (6 months) and developed their own brand, their own restaurants with Michelin stars!

4.   In light of the recent death of a young chef through excessive hours (on average 100+ per week, for multiple weeks – See our post), does the industry need to change & what changes have you made to reflect this in your own kitchens?

 Very sad to read the article, there is a duty of care that needs to be applied, hence the answer to the fist question. Life is about balance and if this cannot be achieved then there is no proposition to have, only through life balance can we truly appreciate what we have and what we have to do in our lives to achieve greatness in our chosen field, 100 hours a week for 27 days straight is criminal and with no care towards the team then there is no heart in the kitchen.  This practise is illegal (law of the land) so my comment is simple – IT IS NOT ALLOWED!!!!   The team and I adopt a simple process, converge all the facilities, staff structure, hours to be worked, skill set, logisitics, budget etc….. and then this will give us the realistic long term proposition that has sustainability and consistency

5.   Do you think that the media (in particular television) have raised the profile of the industry in a positive way?

 Yes i believe it has, it has become a more attractive profession that 30 years ago, it is great for our industry. More people are eating out and challenging the industry to be more diverse and sharp on the offer – i feel London will be, if not already, the gastronomical capital of the world due to our informed customer base, eclectic food style and cosmopolitan population.

As ever, I’d like to thank Mr Campbell, his PA and a close friend of the blog for their time & make this post happen.

If you’d like to get in touch with Mr Campbell concerning career opportunities, he can be found at:

Coworth Park,

Blacknest Road,




Tel: +44 (0)1344 876 600
Email: info.coworthpark@dorchestercollection.com

Web: http://www.coworthpark.com/john-campbell-coworth-park

2 Responses to “Words of Advice ~ John Campbell”
  1. kathpierce23 says:

    great post! awesome!!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] that he was part of a bread ferment from the kitchens of The Vineyard during the reign of John Campbell. ‘Jim’ on the other hand was a relative baby, I made ‘Jim’ because my client was asking […]

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