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James Tanner

Born: 1975

Job: TV chef

Attended: West Kent College, 1991-93

Qualifications:Btech national diploma senior catering and management

James is one half of the successful West Country duo called The Tanner Brothers.

He and elder brother Chris own two restaurants in Plymouth which had a turnover last year ofpound;1.6 million.

James appears regularly on the television show Ready, Steady, Cook and Saturday Kitchen as well as the specialist channel UKTV Food.

"My brother Chris and I were extremely fortunate to attend college at a time when some of the best catering lecturers of their generation were offering to teach potential chefs like us.

"We will both always be grateful to one lecturer in particular, Mr Dave Avery, who had been a senior chef in the armed services and made the wedding cake for the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

"Mr Avery instilled in me a streak of military professionalism which has without a shadow of doubt helped me in my career.

"Kitchens are all about hierarchy and the line of chefs, so Mr Avery's military training helped me understand what being a bit regimented was about.

"Mr Avery and another lecturer called Mr John Pratt - I always refer to them with 'Mr' as a mark of respect - taught me to have a passion about my work and to understand why things worked in particular ways. I now know how important it is to concentrate on what you are doing and to do it because you believe in it.

"Mr Avery is the best pastry chef I have ever come across. Now when Chris and I get apprentices and young chefs working for us, we are able to pass on the techniques we learned at college.

"I was so proud of my time at college and, as a young student, so pleased to win a national junior chef contest in 1992.

"I got the most out of my time at college and don't regret a single minute.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't get on with everybody, but I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for those lecturers.

"Mr Pratt teaches in London now and he invites me to judge some of the work of his current students and that makes me feel really good.

"It is a tough career and I understand there are only two people left in the industry who I studied with.

"There are long hours and it is anti-social, but I love what I do and have little regret. I don't miss the college food, which can only be described as mediocre."

James Tanner was talking to Shekhar Bhatia

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