Revelations: Mark Lawton, head chef, La Belle Époque at the Sofitel London Heathrow hotel
What was your best subject at school?
I was into sports and music when I was younger. I played a few instruments, including the guitar, piano and bass guitar
What was your first job?
When I was 16, working for my dad. He owned a seismic cable company, servicing cables that searched for oil in tanker ships. All very technical and labour-intensive, which got me used to working hard at a young age
What was your first job in catering?
I worked as a KP in a family-run Italian restaurant in my home town of Worthing in West Sussex. There was only the three of us, but it was a good, steep learning curve as I started making pasta sheets and eventually was making the ravioli and agnolotti by myself
What do you normally have for breakfast?
Marmite on toast or Crunchy Nut
What do you do to relax?
If I've had a hard week, I catch up on Game of Thrones, which is my TV fix at the moment, or I like to go out foraging
Which is your favourite restaurant?
What's your favourite hotel?
Got to be my old workplace, Claridge's
What is your favourite food?
I love Japanese food, but I also enjoy food from my home country of the Philippines
What do you always carry with you?
I always carry a small multitool knife, just in case I see anything I can forage when I'm walking in the countryside
Which person in catering have you most admired?
Raymond Blanc, Jason Atherton, Tom Kerridge and, of course, my old bosses Gordon Ramsay and Claire Smyth
Which person gave you the greatest inspiration?
Probably one of the most clichéd answers from a lot of chefs, but with all honesty, both my nans. My English nan taught me a lot of pastry work and classic European dishes, but my Filipino nan was just an extraordinary cook. There was nothing she wasn't good at
Describe your ultimate nightmare?
What irritates you most about the industry?
Kids that are too impatient to go through the ranks. They all want to be head chefs straight away and watch too many glorified cooking programmes… absolute dreamers
If you had more time, what would you do?
I would love to spend more time with my daughter, although she's understanding with my job, I know how hard it is young and growing up not having a father figure all the time!
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