This was a quote from the late great former world rally champion Colin McCrae. I remember the first time I heard it and how at the time it made no sense to me what’s so ever! Surely crashing is the opposite of what a world class driver should be doing? The cost to repair the car, the potential injuries or even the loss of pride when you deck your car into a tree with all the fans looking on and your peers mocking you for your glaring error in judgment. Why would this be a good thing?

I didn’t get it.

As the years rolled on, my once beautiful hair line started to slowly creep towards the back of my neck, my smooth baby like face started to crack and gain a somewhat leather like appearance; like a well-worn saddle. I started to think more about my future as a chef and not just a job to hold down while I waited for the SAS to see my potential and head hunt me from the local Wetherspoons.

Did Colin have a point?

It was around this time that my blood shot baby blues were opened to what a chef could be. In most things , my opinions change dependant on my mood, time of day or how many flat whites I have managed to get down my neck, but there is one thing that I will always give a consistent answer on “what is your favourite it’s cook book?” it’s The French laundry every time!

I still remember buying it from local WH Smiths, getting it home and going through it over and over and over again! I couldn’t believe that anyone could do the things that this guy was doing! It was so elegant and precise and yet at the same time; rooted in the seasons and what the Napa Valley could provide for him. It’s safe to say I was hooked!

Not only does this book have the most beautiful food, stunning photography and a certain biblical worship amongst other chefs (I know one of my development chefs Mark, feels the same as I do) it is full of stories of both success and failure.

The author once had another restaurant in New York City called Rakel and even though the same chef was cooking and he was getting solidly rage reviews saying it was the best food in New York, the restaurant went under and closed it’s doors. Even a man who is later credited with being the best American chef in history failed?! How can that be?!

The answer.

The restaurant closed not failed! And that’s the key point! There was a whole bunch of reasons why this happened and a lot of factors that were out of the genius chef’s hands; but it wasn’t a failing, it was a learning experience. Without that restaurant closing its doors he never would of learned all those valuable lessons which later help him stamp his name into the history books as the best chef America has ever produced, a winner of the best restaurant in the world title and an absolute icon to countless chefs from all over the world. And he did this on the back of a closing restaurant.

It’s important not to get things right all the time, how can you ever learn all the variables of a situation if they always go your way? How can you ever push yourself to your limit if you always play it safe? How can you ever stand out in the crowd if you’re just doing the same thing that everyone else is doing?

I balls things up all the time! I over reach on projects and get so carried away with the things I love that sometimes it’s just not realistic or anywhere near achievable. I actually have to surround myself with people who rein me in and tell me if I’m being a doughnut. And I love that!

In our highly competitive industry you have to stand out, you have to be brave enough to try something new.

We all have the same tools to work with, the same ingredients at our disposal and the same hands to get it done, but the thing that makes us different is our minds and our willingness to push ourselves out of that comfort zone, otherwise we all would be serving coleslaw in our salad bars and cottage pies in great big white stained dishes in the middle of summer or egg and cress on brown.

Don’t get me wrong, as I said some of the time these great ideas don’t pan out, they taste like soil or look as shocking as me in a bikini, but if you’re not moving forward you are falling behind, what new height did you get scared of? How fast could you have gone round that corner? If you didn’t crash then you weren’t trying hard enough.

Pete Redman
Executive Chef

My earliest food memories are of my mum’s baking; coconut pyramid cakes were my favourite.

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