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David Gale

What personally inspired you to become a chef?
I guess this in the very first place was a necessity as I wasn’t very good at school.  Actually I was terrible so I got a job at 13 at the Stanneylands Hotel in Wilmslow, which is where I just fell in love with the whole idea of being a chef.  That first day feeling has never left me now for the last 25 years, I love it just same no matter how much it frustrates me at times.  As for other inspiration I had through my career, there has been so many and I have been lucky enough to work with some of the greatest chefs of our era and the ones I always think back to would be Nico Ladenis, Alain Ducasse, Henry Harris, Tony Tobin, Andy Jeffs and of course they say you never forget your first which is Iain Donald at the Stanneylands Hotel, who to this day is still the only person I call chef.

What is the best thing about being a chef?
This one is so easy and is asked all the time.  Simply everything, I don’t ever want to do anything else.  Some chefs dream of being Ops Managers even GMs but for me that would just be a step down.  Marco once said as a child he used to dream about being a footballer, then a space man, then Napoleon, and as he got older he raised his game and started to dream of being a chef.  For me nothing truer could be said.

What attributes do you need to be a chef?
Again this one is quite simple and its honesty, integrity and hard work.  People say we are a very artistic industry and that is so true on so many levels, but underneath all that there is a real foundation of hard graft and on that level there is much likening to the building trade.

What has been the highlight of your career?
There has been so many.  I guess the first one is still held very dear to me and that would be my very first day in the kitchen.  I was made to stand outside the chef’s office for around 6 hours waiting to see him.  Then he came and called me a persistent little so and so, gave me a set of whites and told me I was now a chef.  I was 13 and very proud.  Since then there has been winning a 3rd Michelin star as a sous chef at Chez Nico and winning a first star (always the hardest) at Nico Central.  Each time I have opened a hotel or restaurant (I have been in charge of the opening of 7 hotels in London, America and Manchester and 4 restaurants in the same locations) and they have all remained very special, especially St Martin’s Lane and Soho House New York.  Being the Northern and Manchester Chef of the Year has been quite special as it’s where I’m from.  I have always been very proud of my roots and recently I have been made a local ambassador for Wythenshawe, which is the area I grew up in and was a very proud moment for my Mam and Dad.  But I guess my greatest achievement was winning the 5 Diamond Award in American which was for opening Soho House and it quickly became the number one celebrity hang out and most talked about place in the world.  And as I believe I was at the time, the only English person to have ever received it (the other person that year that got it was Alain Ducasse, who is arguably the best in the world and who I have been lucky enough to open two restaurants for).  While I was at Soho House I really had a life less ordinary and I got to meet just about every famous person you can think of, including President Clinton, twice!

David Gale is head chef at Manchester’s Hilton Hotel - click here for more information

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