nick smith

Nick started his culinary career at Southend College where he focused on learning and absorbing everything and disliking nothing, achieving his City & Guilds qualifications.

His professional journey started with him working in London at Le Pont de la Tour, The Arts Club Dover St and Chinon, all of which provided him with fantastic training opportunities and learning platforms. Nick had a colleague who was working in private dining and he decided to take a step into this. He first began working at Credit Suisse, then onto Imagination and finally into Ashurst, at the London Fruit & Wool Exchange just outside the famous Spitalfields Market in the heart of E1. Here they craft all the fine dining and hospitality for Ashurst partners and clients, so it is a very diverse, constantly changing and dynamic place to work.

As a chef, Nick loves the accomplishment of crafting something in its beautiful raw form, using all his skill, knowledge, love, passion, respect and pure desire, into a brilliant work of art for others to enjoy. That for him is what brings and drives him to truly love what he does. He feels the rewards are more than worth the hard work you commit to.

 Growing up, Nick never really had any idea what he wanted to do, but luckily for him just at the point he was finishing school, his dad who had been a chef a long time ago, wanted to attend an evening cookery course to broaden his knowledge. Nick went along with him and by the end of the induction he was hooked. His dad inspired him with his experiences, and Nick was excited and driven to pursue this career even more. Thankfully, he’s never looked back.

 As well as his dad, Nick’s inspiration has come from all the passionate individuals that he’s had the opportunity to work alongside. He’s also inspired by the amazing cooking books he has collected in the past, from some of the best chefs in the world as well as the restaurants he’s been lucky enough to dine at.

There have been so many memorable days that Nick has experienced in the kitchen, but one that stands out for him was when he was given the position of sous chef. He stepped into the kitchen with nerves, excitement and a desire to prove to himself that he could step up to the challenge. It was a completely different mindset, with more responsibility and leading the brigade from the front. He learnt a lot from this which has been invaluable for his career.

When it comes to The National Chef of the Year, Nick is chasing a dream and setting himself up for the biggest challenge of his life, building the confidence to show his abilities to a Goliath audience. He said: “I have come to learn so much from NCOTY, that it is not just a competition, it is a growth of learning, raw commitment, pushing yourself and inspiring others. Taking the knocks and getting back up from them and being a better chef for it. This is a competition of a lifetime, the chance to be a part of something special and something that can’t be missed. That moment when you hear your name called out is unforgettable. Every chef in that room is waiting and praying to hear their name called out alongside their commis, who has equally shared that anticipation and sacrifice to get to that stage. Knowing how much time and effort has been spent honing and practicing those dishes to get accepted in that final 10, is something that is exhilarating and scary all at the same time.”

Nick feels that to win this competition, goes beyond the final day on the 1st October 2019, it’s about the legacy it leaves and how you support the industry. He’s watched, listened and learnt from this to understand the expectation of being granted such a title. It is a huge responsibility to take and to become the next National Chef of the Year would be a monumental dream for him and for all that he has shared this journey with.

To succeed as a chef Nick believes it takes a huge amount of belief and a real desire to love, understand and immerse yourself into this amazing craft. Chefs should be adaptable, always cook from their heart and accept it is a continuous education for yourself and others throughout your chosen career.

The three words Nick would use to describe his style of cooking are fervour, adroit and considered.

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