Steph Moon shares: How to Become a Top Chef

During our Sky Dining events this summer, Guest Chef Stephanie Moon will be preparing seven incredible courses for diners to enjoy, 100 metres above sea level. We wanted to find out why Steph decided to pursue a career in food, her tips for becoming a top chef and Steph’s most recent food disaster!

When did you decide you wanted to be a chef?

When the realisation dawned on me I was not going to get 3 A levels grade A and be a Physiotherapist!

Being a Chef was the first choice for me at school; we had to choose our work experience placements and I went to a hotel. They told me to wear whites and bring my knives – back then I didn’t even know what whites were! I took my Uncle’s clean butchers white coat and one of his steak knives, a great big thing. Well, it caused much laughter in the kitchen but the chef said “Steph at least you made an effort!” I have been making an effort ever since and love being a chef. Snap me in half and it says food in the middle!

How did you train to be a chef?

I was going to do a government scheme (YTS) at a local pub making sandwiches and salads but my cookery teacher at school called my parents and told them I should go to college and she persuaded my family it was the best thing for me.

I went to college and really went for it as I had only just scraped my place. It felt so natural to me I loved it. Being surrounded by food felt like the way forward.

One student every year got to go to The Dorchester and I was the chosen student that year. From a hill farm in Yorkshire where my parents lived half a mile from any other houses, I found myself in London working on Park Lane.

Then I travelled the world with my job – Switzerland, Germany, America, Australia and London. The Dorchester and my Head Chef Anton Mosimann was a great calling card for getting kitchen jobs in catering – the hotel has a fantastic reputation.

What’s the ultimate advice you would give to an aspiring chef?

Just go for it! If you like hard work and being creative, it is the job for you but you have to have a passion for it as it is not easy.

Never take a job until you are ready for it – I was the best Commis Chef (trainee) I could be before I went to being a Chef De Partie (in charge of a section of the kitchen).

What are the key skills for a chef to possess?

Standards, Standards and more Standards. Never let anything you serve be poor – we are only as good as our last meal and our worst dish.

I think chefs fall into various categories. I hope I am driven, passionate and creative and eccentric – I think that definitely helps.

Food nightmares – any food disasters you can share?

This one is easy and it happened to me about 2 hours after arriving at the Emirates Spinnaker Tower. Yes, I managed to set the fire alarm off with some Smokey Bacon Jam I was making (smoky by name and nature). I learnt quickly the induction hobs are very sensitive as are the fire alarms so I will be on my best behaviour from now on!

You have been working with our head chef on this event – do you enjoy the opportunity to develop up-and-coming chefs?

Working with Darren has been a dream he is a gentle giant of a guy a really great chef and a lovely man. We have Kitchen Manager Darren Reddindiscussed food all day and he never gets tired of it.

I think his love of food is obvious and he is learning new techniques as he goes along and I am learning from working with him and the team here.

They are really like a family that club together. As you can imagine the Emirates Spinnaker Tower is a busy place and teamwork is the key ingredients to success.

What’s your favourite restaurant and why?

This changes all the time – I have had some amazing meals recently. I dined at The Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds with Chef Michael O Hare. What an inspirational chef and really different – I ate the Emancipation dish with the cod he did on the BBC Great British Menu; that was wonderful. Or a trip of a lifetime to L’enclume in the Lake District for a birthday treat.

But great food can be available everywhere.

Whilst down at the Emirates Spinnaker Tower recently after work, I went with the team to a Burrito place in Southsea for some cracking simple street food that was lovely too. Chicken, Chorizo and Lemon spiced rice in a great big wrap – really tasty. Nothing can beat real variety. I love Thai food and Indian too, not forgetting great traditional British dishes too.

Book your table now for our summer Sky Dining events. Places are limited and are booking swiftly! Click here to learn more and to book.