Food lovers are well served in the Lake District. With Michelin-star restaurants, gastro food pubs, and quirky cafes, there really is something for everyone. But if you're looking for something particularly indulgent, a private chef visiting your self-catering holiday cottage could be just the thing for a really special treat!
Julian has been a qualified chef for other 30 years. Classically trained in the art of food, he's lived in Cumbria for 15 years and continues to be inspired by the foodie offerings of the county. Today, he talks about about how he went from a college student considering tattoo options, to the top of his game as The Cumbrian Chef.
For the Love of Food
Is food really love? Well, that’s what the young Julian was going to have tattooed on his arm as he started his college training at Stafford Catering College back in 1986.
I don’t know if I agree, but perhaps food makes you feel loved? Or, better yet, if you’re very hungry, I’d agree food could be love!
Perhaps I first thought about food and love in the same context while watching my mum cooking for me and my three sisters. Or maybe it was smelling the aroma of mum’s sausage casserole with creamy potato. Either way, the action of making food for other people shows some kind of love in itself. Whether that's a love for the preparation itself, a love for the people you're serving, or a love of the tasty delights to come will depend on the cook. Whatever it is, it was these early memories of my mum's cooking that led me down the path of catering as a career.
Love & Marriage
Once I qualified with my cooking strips I was straight into commercial kitchens in various locations across the UK. But this travelling soon came to an end when I returned to my home county of Staffordshire and the market town of Eccleshall. It was here, at age 22, that I opened my first restaurant, and where I remained fro the next 13 years.
While I was in Eccleshall, I met my future wife, Liz, too. We were married at the local church and had our two children while living in the town.
Despite it being a big part of our life, the time eventually came to make a leap from Staffordshire to Cumbria. After selling the Eccleshall restaurant in the early 2000s, we moved to Kendal to start our next venture.
In Love With Cumbria
It was when we purchased Bridge Street Restaurant in Kendal that my love affair with Cumbria really began. Our children were still young at the time and we had so many exciting places to adventure to on our days off from running the restaurant. Being on the edge of the Lake District, it was an amazing location for them to grow up, and incredible for Liz and I to get to know the county, too.
However, after 6 years in Kendal, a new opportunity came along. We sold Bridge Street Restaurant and I started a new path in my career as the Executive Chef at Lancaster University. Though a completely different direction, I learned so much, made some great friends along the way, and still look back at my six years at the university with great fondness. There, I helped create a better understanding of health and wellbeing for the students and staff, running regular cookery classes and cooking demonstrations.
The Return to Cumbria
As for many, the 2020/21 Covid-19 pandemic for me has been an opportunity to revaluate the direction of my career. During the lockdown I decided to get creative and planned my launch of The Cumbrian Chef.
With help and guidance from the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, I started my business as a private chef. This finds me cooking at private homes and holiday cottages for people who want something extra special for a night in. It's a real joy to work closely with guests on creating menus that work well for them and make use of our wonderful food producers in the North West. It's the use of these local providers that will always be at the core of The Cumbrian Chef.
Is Food Really Love?
One thing I am certain of is that the effort and the nobility of both cooking for and serving others is, in fact, love. As I think of food today, it’s cooking for those that appreciate it that really gives me pleasure. To do this well, and to cook with such love, takes humility. And what, after all, is love without humility?
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This is a guest blog written by Julian from The Cumbrian Chef. Visit his website to find out more and book your own private dining experience.