Chefs don’t have to wait to find out what people think about their food: their feedback is instant. It’s that rewarding environment which is one of the things that keeps head chef Alistair Lycett coming back for more.
His first job was front of house for the House of Commons restaurant, so shying away from high-pressure environments is not what Alistair Lycett does.
Head chef at Faversham’s Sun Inn since 2007, Alistair studied catering at Canterbury College before working in a French hotel and began with Shepherd Neame as a sous chef at the Granville, near Canterbury.
He’s since worked at the Fordwich Arms, the Crown Inn at Sarre, the White Horse Inn at Boughton, and apart from a stint running his own contract catering business, has stayed with the brewery.
“I would definitely recommend the job,” said Alistair. “I would say to anyone considering a career as a chef – do it. There are always going to be some downsides to any job, but it’s very rewarding and you will rarely – if ever – be out of work. People always need good chefs.”
Calm-headed Alistair, who describes his style as British gastropub, said: “If you can keep your cool it’s an advantage. I also feel it is important to lead by example.
“I never ask my staff to do anything I’m not happy to do myself. And be prepared: clean as you go, have all your ingredients ready and know exactly where everything is in the kitchen.”
His approach has made him perfect for passing on his skills and was recently appointed as a mentor chef by Sheps.
“I enjoy being able to help other chefs progress in their careers,” he said. “One of our current chefs started out with us four years ago as a kitchen porter and has worked his way up, which is great to see.”
A hectic and demanding job, a normal day starts at 10am checking stock, placing food orders and food preparation, liaising with front of house staff, dealing with the busy lunchtime service and then evening service and finishing around 9.30pm.
But the father of one, who says chefs that inspire him include Keith Floyd, Rick Stein and Tom Kerridge, added: “The instant gratification of successfully completing a busy service and knowing a job is well done is very rewarding.
“A real highlight is when customers enjoy the food so much they take the time to let you know.”
The 14th century Sun Inn is at 10 West Street, Faversham. Call 01795 535 098 or visit sunfaversham.co.uk
It serves breakfast from 7.15am Monday to Friday and from 8.15am at the weekends; lunch and dinner plus Sunday roasts, using local ingredients, with a bar menu and restaurant menu.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH FROM THE SUN INN
Butternut squash soup with ginger and orange a simple and hearty soup that’s got a spicy kick.
Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins, Serves 10.
2kg butternut squash
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Zest and juice of one orange
2 tsp lime juice
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp veg bouillon paste
2cm root ginger, grated
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
double cream to finish
1.5l boiling water
Salt and pepper
1. Peel and roughly chop the squash. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan. Add the cumin seeds, ginger and onion and fry for a couple of minutes to soften.
2. Add the chopped squash and fry until starting to brown. Add the orange zest and juice, the vegetable bouillon paste and the boiling water.
3. Bring to the boil and cook until the squash is tender. Blend with a hand blender, adding more water if it is a little thick. Add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.