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Fraser Bruce

After years of travelling, Fraser returned to the UK to be formally trained at Leith’s School of Food and Wine. Following stages at Racine in Knightsbridge with Henry Harris and Rick Steins’ Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Fraser fell in love with Cornwall.  He worked summer seasons in the well-known Porthmeor Café, in St Ives, and then in a high-end chalet throughout the winter. Now, he is running a country dining pub in St Ives in Cornwall named The Halsetown Inn.  It’s located in a beautiful area, abundant with amazing produce and they try to use the best locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to create a modern British menu.

Fraser says it takes a lot of personal sacrifice to be a chef, with the long and unsociable hours so you need to have a love for it; the whole kitchen environment, the ups, the downs, the good services, the bad ones. He added: “It’s stressful but I couldn’t ever imagine getting up and going to work in an office, for example. You meet some crazy people working in this trade but end up loving them, I think it’s quite unique in that way.”

Growing up, Fraser never thought he would be a chef, but he has always had an interest in food. His mother was a great cook when he was growing up and she introduced him to different cuisines. As a child, Fraser played football for a couple of professional clubs so that was where he thought he would end up. Then he moved away and fell in love with surfing, which pretty much shaped his whole life in terms of where he wanted to live. He fell into the industry whilst travelling as he saw it as a way to fund his life at the time.

Adam Handling has always been a chef which Fraser has looked up to and would love to work with, as his style of cooking is how he likes to cook. In his career, Cameron Jennings of the Porthmeor Café in St Ives has been the most important and influential person, without a doubt. Cameron has taught Fraser so much about working in this industry, work ethic and management. They are still good friends and he can rely on him for advice and help at any time whether it’s work related or not.

Fraser entered the competition last year and made it through to the semi-finals which coincided with the due date of his first child.  It was a time in his life where all the focus should have been on his partner and she should have been relaxing, but instead she devoted all her energy to help him compete, right down to even being his kitchen porter as he practiced when she was nine months pregnant! They packed the van ready for every eventuality to drive to London in case she went into labour, even looking at what hospitals were near to Le Cordon Bleu where the semi-final was held.  It’s something that Fraser won’t forget.

Entering last year and reaching the semi-finals was a massive achievement but Fraser was gutted not to progress. His interview with Gary Jones after his heat gave him real confidence and assurance in what he’s doing professionally, even though he didn’t reach the final. Having had the opportunity to cook for some of the best in the industry, it truly inspired him to push himself and enter again. Fraser feels there is no better way to receive constructive criticism than from a group of Michelin-starred chefs.

Fraser was shocked to make the final this year as he didn’t expect it. He had made a couple of mistakes and hoped he might have still scraped through as a high scorer but to actually win his heat made him very happy. He commented: “To win National Chef of the Year would be amazing. However, to simply be cooking at this level both for the judges and alongside some well-respected chefs I’m already happy. I’m just going to enjoy the experience and see what comes from it.”

To succeed as a chef, Fraser feels you must be dedicated as it takes time to learn not just how to cook but how to run a kitchen. Managing people and a team becomes just as important as the food you want to produce.

Local, seasonal and sustainable are the three words that Fraser would use to describe his style of cooking.

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