Brian Turner at UCB Masterclass

July 2013

Top chef Brian Turner urged UCB chef students to achieve their culinary dreams when he gave a cookery demonstration at the university.

Brian, president of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, staged the Yorkshire Bank master class for Year 2 and 3 students as part of UCB’s enrichment programme.

As he prepared a dish using lamb neck fillet, the chef recalled the “nerve-wracking” experience of moving form his native Yorkshire to work at Simpsons in the Strand in London in 1963.

He said his humble lodgings were furnished entirely in grey. “There were grey sheets and blankets, grey wallpaper. The wardrobe had been painted grey. Everything was grey. I looked outside and I thought, ‘Brian, you are a fool.’”

The chef admitted the first fortnight at work was tough but he quickly made friends. “For that first two weeks, I could have said, ‘That is it.’ Fortunately, I didn’t and I have had a great experience. I still meet people today who I met 50 years ago.”

Brian went on to work at The Savoy, Claridge’s and the Capital Hotel before setting up his own restaurant in Knightsbridge. He went on to forge a successful career on television and is an ambassador for British cuisine.

Although his life today is very different from when he started out as a chef, he recalled with fondness roasting huge joints of beef at Simpsons. The 20 to 30kg sirloins, on the bone, were cooked in huge ovens above joints of lamb, chickens and ducks. A tray at the bottom of the ovens collected the fat that was then used to make the restaurant’s famous Yorkshire puddings.

Despite the passage of time, Brian said the tip for getting the best, juiciest roast beef remained the same. 

Always leave it for 15 to 20 minutes to rest in a warm, ambient temperature before carving.

Brian Turner

Assistant dean John Penn said the session helped to demystify the sometimes daunting environment that top-level chefs operate in. It also provided the students with valuable, practical knowledge to improve their technical skills. 

How many students can go home and say they were taught at university today by a chef like Brian Turner?

Assistant dean John Penn