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Lifelong foodie Paul becomes four-star hotel head chef (26th March 2012)

Lifelong foodie Paul becomes four-star hotel head chef

A CHEF who has counted Michel Roux Snr as among his regular customers has taken charge of the kitchen at a four-star hotel in Shropshire.

Paul May, 38, knew he wanted to be a chef since he was a young boy who loved good food so much he refused to order from the children’s menus.

After more than 20 years working in his dream career Paul has now been appointed executive chef at the Hill Valley Spa, Hotel and Golf in Whitchurch.

“From an early age I always liked good food, I never wanted to order from the children’s menu I just wanted smaller portions of the adult’s food,” said Paul.

“I always really appreciated quality food and I remember being around six-years-old and going into the kitchen to give my compliments to the chef who gave me a handful of mints.”

Becoming executive chef at Hill Valley Spa, Hotel and Golf – part of the prestigious Macdonald Hotels & Resorts Group – means things have come full circle for Paul.

The father-of-two started working in kitchens straight after finishing school as an apprentice at a hotel in Marlow which is now part of the Macdonald group.

He then worked his way through the ranks at hotels and restaurants – including a five star hotel and a restaurant in Ascot that was popular among celebrities including Cliff Richard.

It was also a regular haunt of Michel Roux Snr, often referred to as the Godfather of modern cuisine.

“He would generally come in every few months and order the skate,” said Paul, of Cold Hatton.

“It was scary in the first instance but he was a repeat customer so you know they are coming because they like the food which makes it a little easier. He was a great guy and used to come into the kitchens to thank us and shake our hands.”

In his new role at Hill Valley Spa, Hotel and Golf, Paul is keen to encourage the younger generation of chefs and instil in them the importance of using quality, sustainable ingredients.

He is head of a team of six chefs who produce breakfast, lunch, dinner, biscuits for the bar snacks as well as banquets for conferences and weddings.

“The younger generation are the future of the industry which is a hard place to work as it’s a hot atmosphere, long hours and stressful at times,” said Paul.

“I love the energy of a kitchen and at the end of a busy, successful service you get a great adrenaline rush, so anyone that shows a glimmer of interest and shows talent should be encouraged.”