He may not work in an office or wear a suit but One Canada Square’s new head chef Ross Bott is every bit as ambitious as the people he cooks for.
Breaking his shoulder skiing did not stop the 32-year-old from starting his job and he has arrived in Canary Wharf ready to revolutionise the menu at the restaurant, with his sights set on the top accolades in cooking.
He said: “Outside of work I’m quite shy but the kitchen is my comfort zone and in it I’m a beast.
“My mission in life is to do good food and get three AA Rosettes, a Michelin star and eventually have my own property on the outskirts of London.”
Five days week he rises at 6am and commutes in from Shenley to arrive at work by 7.30am and start preparing to cook for up to 50 people at lunchtime. A “fitness freak”, he fits in a 45-minute workout on his break and then is back to the kitchen for the dinner service, with his day ending at 11pm.
He said: “Maybe that’s why I’m single, all I do is work. But I love what I do and wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Ross, whose worst kitchen disaster was burning six foie gras terrines while working at the Mirabelle in Mayfair, said: “Working out helps me stay calm but I’m still quite horrible in the kitchen as I’m a bit OCD and like things done properly.
“I do sometimes shout and scream, but that kind of goes with the chef life, which is a high pressure environment.”
Any free time is spent with his 10-year-old daughter (who loves baking), taking part in Tough Mudders (he came in the top 5% of competitors last year) and eating out (with Nandos and Wild Honey in Mayfair two of his favourites).
“If I had my choice my last meal would be a Sunday roast beef,” said the teetotaller who tastes up to 40 dishes a day at work but eats simple meals of eggs and protein at home and weighs just over 13 stone.
Raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, the first food he remembers eating was traditional lamb and egg dish – bobotie – made by his mother.
An Arsenal season ticket-holder, he discovered his passion for cooking aged 14 when he was sent to board at Shrewsbury School.
Ross, who has dyslexia said: “I found it easier to deal with than paperwork and when I left school at 16 I got myself a part-time job working in the kitchen at Peyton Golf Club and really enjoyed it.”
He went on to get NVQs in food technology at Birmingham College and then started his career working for renowned French chef Pierre Koffman at his three Michelin star restaurant La Tante Claire in The Berkely hotel.
He then worked at in the Lake District and helped set up fine dining restaurant Paris House in Milton Keynes before moving to Marlow to work as sous chef to Adam Simmonds, of Great British Menu fame, at Dansfield House and then at the Compleat Angler, where he was set the task of getting the restaurant Three Rosettes and did so in just 11 months.
He is now focussed on One Canada Square’s new summer menu and said it would be “very British”.
“My style of food is very modern so I have changed a lot of things,” he said. “Any new chef wants to put his stamp on a restaurant.”
He has brought in a new pastry chef, has made the plating of food fancier and introduced modern techniques such as water baths to cook ingredients and espumas to create delicate foams.
Ross, who loves the flavours and colours of Autumn, said: “We will be using a lot more seasonal products but still doing our specials every day and, at the moment, we are using that to try out new dishes for the menu.
“People in Canary Wharf want simple food, something that will fill them up and still taste great.
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