Jason Atherton: This is the only reason you should become a chef

10th Jan 19 | Lifestyle

The food world is a tough one, the Pollen Street restaurateur tells Ella Walker.

Jason Atherton who has released his first cookbook

Jason Atherton genuinely ran away from home, aged 16 – while his parents were on holiday no less – to pursue his dream of becoming a chef.

For the Sheffield-born 47-year-old, the gamble paid off. He now runs more than 15 restaurants around the world, and his flagship joint, Pollen Street Social, has a coveted Michelin star.

Ask him whether he’d recommend following in his culinary footsteps though, and the chef has some serious words of warning.

“Really be careful about why you get into it, because the thing is, a lot of people see top chefs and – me and [fellow chef] Sat Bains were talking about it the other day – they see the nice watches and the cars, and they see the odd appearance on TV and the cookbook, and they go, ‘Woah, I want to be a chef.’

“What they don’t see is the 30 years of living in bedsits, getting up at 5am, getting to bed at midnight, the endless repetitive hours of doing the same thing over and over again to be good at it…

“If you don’t genuinely love food – and I mean love food, I don’t mean, ‘Oh I like food and cooking dinner parties for my friends’, I mean absolutely bat***t crazy about food – if you’re bat***t crazy about food then do it, because it is the most rewarding job you’ll ever have.”

Money and fame shouldn’t remotely come into it though, he explains: “If you’re doing it for money, there’s much easier ways to make money. If you’re doing it because you wanna be famous, become an actor, it’s much easier work, it’s not as demanding, you’re not going to miss weddings [birthdays, anniversaries], all that type of stuff.

“With food, people want to eat at night time, so you’re going to be at work until midnight. That’s it. End of.

“If you want to be great, that’s it, you have to be prepared to sacrifice a lot. If you’re prepared to do all of that, then I’d say do it.”

Pollen Street The Cookbook by Jason Atherton is published by Absolute Press, priced £50. Available now.

© Press Association 2019

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