My first memory of food goes back to when I was four years old helping my Mum bake cakes. I progressed into experimenting at home, after school before my parents got home, creating things that I enjoyed eating. For my tenth birthday I had a dinner party and then it became a regular occurrence that friends would come round and eat my food.
Although my home life was relatively happy, I had some troubled teenage years where I found it difficult to express myself and didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. I went from job to job until the age of 21 when one memorable day my Mum presented me with an application form for Fifteen and Jamie Oliver’s training programme. I remember initially thinking it wasn’t even worth a shot, but when I started to complete the application I became excited about the things I was writing and recalled the most consistent thing in my life had been cooking, but I had never thought of it as a career before.
After an intense interview process I was selected to be one of the Fifteen students. Very quickly I found I was passionate about something for the first time since childhood and loved learning. I believe it was the best start a young person could have had into the world of food. The chef’s I got to work with on a daily basis were all very passionate, talented and good at passing on their knowledge to us. In fact everyone at the organisation had a good effect on us trainee’s. Jamie Oliver is so inspirational with everything he has achieved and keeps coming up with new ideas that most would never have thought of, this really rubbed off on me and made me think that I could also be somebody one day. This was the first thing I had actually completed in my life and it had given me great ambition and an entrepreneurial outlook on life.
Since graduating from the Fifteen course I have had the opportunity to work at some of the industry’s best restaurants, such as St. John. I then had the opportunity to take a slightly different course in my career and for a couple of years I worked in the advertising industry. I took to this very quickly and had a natural flair for it which also meant I was very successful. It has also given me some great experience in sales and marketing. The plan was to always bring it back to cooking somehow, I just wasn’t sure how!
After an amazing year out travelling the world I came back to England. Visiting places like America, Australia, Thailand and Vietnam gave me an opportunity to learn about different food cultures and got me inspired for my next project. Since returning I have been setting up my own food company Joe Gray which is dedicated to providing a truly unique experience for each client. The company’s main focus is private chef events such as dinner parties, cookery lessons and larger events such as weddings, the idea being that I can share some of my knowledge in food that has been passed down to me from my mentors over the years. It is important for people to understand and recognise where there food is coming from now and a bespoke event hosted by myself can give you a taste.