Simon Lawrence, Head Chef of The Running Horse Inn
Simon first discovered his passion for cooking at the age of 15 when he spent many hours in the kitchen being inspired by his Mum who was an excellent cook and taught him the basics of good cooking. His love of food developed from there and he went on to study a part time cooking course at Catering College whilst working for the renowned Chef Marco Pierre White in the pub he then owned, The Yew Tree in Newbury.
It was there that Simon really experienced the stress of working in a busy, pressurised kitchen with a team of chefs that had exceptionally high standards. The British influenced food he helped produce had to be perfect every time and Marco spent a lot of his time working with the chefs in the kitchen and instilling into his brigade the many principles of kitchen discipline.
At the tender age of 18, Simon was promoted to Sous Chef. Being the youngest Sous Chef in the company put a lot of pressure on him, so two years later, in 2009, Simon took a year out to travel across South Africa. The trip was a once in lifetime opportunity and on his travels, Simon was inspired by the amazing food used in cooking – both on the top end menus, where Foie Gras and lobster were common ingredients in man dishes, and the cheaper end, where every part of the ingredient was used and nothing was ever wasted. That sense of resourcefulness has stayed with Simon and is one of the main principles he introduces into every kitchen he works in today.
On returning from his travels Simon worked as a Sous Chef in a popular pub owned by the well-known presenter Terry Wogan. At this busy gastropub, the Roux Brothers were regular visitors and Wogan and his many friends often popped in for a pint. Once again the standard of food the kitchen provided had to be top notch every single day and Simon returned to this high pressure environment with relish.
A year later, Simon re-joined Marco Pierre White in his first Head Chef role at a country pub called Kings Arms in Fernhurst, on the outskirts of Haslemere. Again working closely with and learning from Marco, it was here that Simon really recognised his talent for developing chefs and ensuring they work together as a team in unity – something essential for the smooth running of any successful kitchen. With the national shortage of chefs hitting hard, he also recognised the need to develop and promote from within, something he did here to great effect.
Simon is now Head Chef at The Running Horse Inn. Working in this busy environment Simon and his team design seasonal menus using Great Britain’s fantastic variety of home-grown produce. Local butchers, freshly picked seasonal fruits and vegetables are all important to Simon and his team who strive to for perfection, but simplicity, every time.