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28th July 2006 at 01:00
Russell Holborn

Job: Chef.

Born: 1970

Attended: East Surrey College 1987-1989.

Qualifications: Food and Beverage, Cookery and Catering (parts one and two), and Food Hygiene.

Russell is head chef at the celebrated Waterside Inn, on the banks of the River Thames at Bray.

He has worked at the Waterside - which has three Michelin stars - for 17 years and runs one of the busiest kitchens of its type in Britain, with 20 chefs under his control and a glittering A-list client book.

The restaurant is owned by the legendary chef Michel Roux with his son Alain.

"I owe a great deal to my time at college, particularly my lecturers Simon Bland, Keith Taylor and June Jordan. But Simon, in particular, has been my greatest adviser and has also become a friend.

"When I was in his class, he taught me the basic principle of questioning every ingredient and tasting everything to see how it worked.

"He impressed upon me and inspired me and made me believe in the importance of loving the food.

"I have benefited from that experience to this day and Simon is a friend who I keep in contact with.

"But it is sad that out of around 30 students who were with me, I am the only one still in the catering business.

"It is a tough lifestyle with anti-social hours and you have to learn to get a balance with work and your family and children. It is a sad reality that a lot of people drop out after college.

"When I went back in 1998 to lecture some students there at Simon's invitation, I discovered that even though the facilities were the best, the numbers of students going into catering had fallen.

"But it is good to go back to East Surrey as I have fond memories of the place, although the old building which was fantastic and built in the 1800s has been demolished.

"My best memory was as a 19-year-old being invited by my teachers to do some part-time catering with them.

"I ended up at Biggin Hill airport in Kent boarding a private jet to Le Mans to work at the motor racing and for a teenager that was a fantastic experience.

"Since then I have travelled the world and I have never regretted a moment of it.

"College was really good for me, and even the canteen food was very good...

although I have to say that may have been because we cooked it."

Russell Holborn was talking to Shekhar Bhatia

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