Chef Ian Winton is originally from Lancashire and has always had a huge interest and love for food. He got his first job after graduating as Sous Chef at The Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge in 1997. Chef Ian excelled straight away and within a year was promoted to Head Chef. Following his career, Chef Ian secured several Head Pastry Chef positions in prestigious hotels such as Raffles Brown Hotel in Mayfair, Le Meridien and The Goring Hotel.
Chef Ian joined Le Cordon Bleu’s team of pâtisserie teaching chefs in 2014.
What made you want to be a chef and when did you realise?
It has been my career path since a young age! people always said to me that I’m good at teaching and at putting ideas across, so it seemed to just work for me. I think being at Le Cordon Bleu and teaching is a natural progression from a working chef as you always want to pass on your knowledge to your team - so it’s just the same but instead you’re passing it onto students. It is an extremely rewarding job, especially when you see your students reach the ‘eureka moment’ and everything falls into place.
Can you share with us one of your fondest moments in your career to date?
There are a few that I hold as quite special moments, so I’ll share a couple. One of the first would be passing my pastry chef exams and advanced pastry diplomas. I used to train on my days off from working so it was quite a stressful time - It was such an incredible moment when I reached my goal. Then there was preparing a cake for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It was very well received and we gained a letter of thanks which was a wonderful surprise. During my time at The Goring I also increased their covers of afternoon tea from 10 to 60, gained employee of the year. I also had the honour of making desserts for Kate Middleton and her family the night before the royal wedding. After a request came down to the kitchen for an additional pudding I knew they had enjoyed them.
Why is Le Cordon Bleu so unique to you?
I had looked into Le Cordon Bleu a long time before I joined. It’s world renowned and an absolute pleasure to work with the students here. It is also special on a personal level, as I have the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals; there still isn’t a day where I don’t learn something new from my colleagues.
Don’t do anything by halves, never stop learning no matter what position you hold.
What is your earliest food memory?
My very first food memory is the summer holidays with my Granddad. He was completely self-sufficient from everything he grew in his garden. But I loved the strawberries! he used to bang on the window if he saw me eating them, or he would guess from the red stains around my lips. The lovely thing about his garden is that with the extra produce that he didn’t need, like cauliflowers and cabbages he would use to feed the rest of the village. Following from that my Dad was in the Merchant Navy and you’d think from being in such a role that the culinary world wouldn’t be on his mind. But I always remember him getting all the cookery magazines and because he travelled, he used to come home with new ideas of flavours and recipes, so we always ate well!
What is your favourite ingredient to work with?
I really enjoy working with Chocolate as an ingredient, and on the savoury side I do like eating Asian styled food, like fish noodle broths.
Did you find the speed at which you were promoted throughout your career quite stressful?
It was certainly challenging, but it was done in such a way that the team continued to respect me. The main thing that got me through was that I remained grounded, and the best way to gain respect from others is to earn it - so that was what I did. I grew into my roles and took over from people that I had worked beside. Stress will always be a part of the job when you’re in a kitchen, but in saying that, if it is channelled in the right way, it can give you drive and determination.
Explain to us what was involved in winning the best afternoon tea in London with the Tea Guild
When I joined the brigade at The Goring, they weren’t a part of the Tea Guild, but a year after I joined they entered, and the second year of being nominated we won! When I arrived the executive chef and I made a consecutive decision to move the afternoon tea’s forward, and it was a great team achievement. It really was a lovely feeling to know that everyone had been a part of the award right from the crockery and service team. I think in general that tea should be recognised; it is steeped in history and can be used as an ingredient in so many recipes.
One piece of advice that would help someone reach your standard in a top London hotel today
The best advice I could give would be that you’ll only get out what you put in. Don’t do anything by halves, never stop learning no matter what position you hold or the place that you work and always respect your pastry chef.