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INDUSTRY ROLE MODEL CASE STUDY – Paul Devonshire, Head Chef, Gleneagles’ Strathearn and main kitchen Introduction This case study consists of a personal profile of Paul Devonshire, Head Chef at Gleneagles’ Strathearn Restaurant. It is based on a questionnaire interview and website information. Many thanks to Paul and to Gleneagles for providing this information.

Background Gleneagles Hotel is one of the world’s most coveted 5 star resorts. It is owned by Diageo Plc and is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. Set in 850 acres of Perthshire countryside, Gleneagles is home to three of the top Scottish Championship Golf Courses and a wide range of exhilarating outdoor leisure activities. Throughout the hotel guests will find the finest comfort – from the elegant restaurants to the luxury bedrooms and the calming environment of the spacious new destination spa by ESPA. Located within an hour’s drive from the international airports of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Gleneagles Hotel is a unique place to escape for business and pleasure. The Strathearn Restaurant The Strathearn is Gleneagles' two rosette award winning restaurant with magnificent views across the estate. The service is stylish and the food is from a classical era. Customers can enjoy the very best of Scotland’s larder with a touch of the unexpected.

The Strathearn Restaurant has recently achieved an EatScotland Silver Award. This accolade reflects the high standards in terms of food, service and ambience.

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The Strathearn has a smart/casual dress-code and many customers take the opportunity to dress up for the occasion. Denim, shorts, baseball caps and trainers are not allowed. To accompany their meal at The Strathearn customers can choose from the very best of the world’s wines, and to finish there is a collection of some of the rarest malt whiskies in Scotland.

The Strathearn is a grand restaurant, serving the finest of Scottish food. It is open for breakfast, dinner and Sunday lunch. Many customers will be guests staying at the hotel, however you don’t have to stay at Gleneagles to enjoy a meal at The Strathearn. Click here to see examples of the menus offered at The Strathearn.

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Interview Name: Job Title: Location:

Paul Devonshire Head Chef Strathearn Restaurant and Main Kitchen, Gleneagles Hotel

1. Why were you attracted into the industry? From the age of 13 years old I’ve always wanted to become a chef. The first thing I made was mixing sugar with butter until it was white and fluffy. For me there is no better feeling than making something out of a basket full of raw ingredients. From the day I started out in this industry I have never had two days that were the same, our trade will never become boring as long as there are customers who need feeding. 2. What was your first job in the industry? When I was 15 years old I started work in the YMCA as a Kitchen Porter. I worked there for a year. 3. What educational qualifications do you have and/or training at work? How have these helped in your career? I have been at the Gleneagles Hotel for 4 years and in this time the hotel has helped equip me with the tools I require to become a better manager. I have been put through internal and external courses in management training, media studies, disciplinary procedures, level 4 management SVQ course, Chartered Management, Intermediate Spirit and Wine courses and Intermediate Food Hygiene. All these courses have helped me manage a large team of chefs and get the best out of them for their own personal gains and those of the guests alike. 4. Did you have a mentor who encouraged you during the early stages of your career? If so, who and why were they inspirational? When I attended high school it was fair to say that I had no interest in many of the subjects on the curriculum, however my Home Economics teacher Mrs Hannaman spent a lot of time with me as she was aware that I had an interest in this. It was Mrs Hannaman that encouraged me to progress into the hospitality industry. It is also probably fair to say that if it was not for her support I would not have gone on to make a career out of it. I think it is still true today as it was back in my day that the teachers that spend a bit of time with you will be the ones that get the best out of you. This was very true for me. 5. What do you regard as being your biggest achievement to date? My biggest achievement to date is where I am right now in my career. To work in what I regard as the best 5 star hotel in Scotland as the Head Chef in the Strathearn Restaurant has got to be the icing on the cake! I have worked in many smaller hotels as a head chef but not one as big as the Gleneagles. It gives me Springboard Education at: and To contact us directly email:


great confidence to know that I can manage a larger team of chefs and achieve the same results as in my smaller establishments. 6. What industry ambitions would you still like to achieve? I have had the great fortune of working with Alan Gibb who is my Executive Head Chef here at the Gleneagles Hotel and I have learnt from his expertise. My future goal would be to become an Executive Head Chef myself in the not too distant future as I believe over the last 25 years working in this industry I have acquired the skills and knowledge required for this position. 7. What gives you a buzz about your job? There are many aspects of my job that give me a buzz, but I think what gave me a buzz 10 years ago is not what’s giving me the buzz at present. When I was a chef starting out the buzz you would get would be from service time when the guests were in the dining room waiting to be fed and like most nights in this industry, two are never the same. The pressure to ensure the guests get the best you can give always gives you the buzz and adrenaline that make you want to become a better and better chef. Working in a kitchen is all about team work and the buzz you all get as a team when the service draws to a close and all the guests are happy sends you home with a smile on your face and a well deserved refreshment of your choice. On the flip side when service has not gone well and guests are disappointed the low you feel as a team also hurts, and that’s where I believe it’s my job to lift the team’s heads up for the next service and also strive to better yourself. As a Head Chef the buzz I get now is not from so much from cooking personally but from giving the young chefs in my team the tools and information they require to become better chefs themselves. I have seen many young chefs come through the Gleneagles door, very young, nervous, and not sure of their abilities, and to see them develop into good chefs full of confidence and great team players is what my job is all about.

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8. Why would you recommend the industry to potential recruits? I would recommend this industry to potential recruits because as far as I’m concerned it has served me well for the last 25 years. The teamwork and bond you have with your brigade will stay with you for a long time. I have the pleasure of working in establishments that want all their staff to succeed and become better chefs. The good points in my opinion will always outweigh the bad points, particularly the satisfaction of making your guests happy and knowing you helped make their stay that little bit special. Cooking is a universal language. I went to Hong Kong for a year and even though there were 40 chefs and only one spoke English (me!), cooking is cooking and it did not take long for respect to build up without the spoken word. This means if you decide to travel as I did and whilst you’re travelling, you will also be learning different cuisines and cooking with different ingredients which will stay with you long after your travels have ceased. The work ethic of a kitchen brigade is different than anything I’ve come across before; the pressure of a busy service always bring a team together in a way not much different to a family. You have highs and lows but the overall feeling is that you do not want to let any of your team members down and you don’t want to be let down by any of your team members. This is the common bond that most kitchen brigades operate on. 9. What are your top 3 tips to people entering the industry? • Ask questions. I know people are probably nervous because it’s their first job or it’s a new job, but if you don’t ask questions you will not receive answers. I have seen young chefs working away and my fish supplier will walk in with a whole fish or seafood that I’m sure these young chefs have never seen - but some do not ask me what it is! When I was their age I wanted to know everything, and even if you have been told once but you’ve forgotten, ask again. I would much prefer telling my chefs something three times than they go away and make a mistake. • Taste things. Asking questions is important but it must be followed up by tasting. If you know what a certain fish or shellfish is called but do not know what it tastes like you have only half an answer. Knowing what food tastes like and, more to the point, what it should taste like will be the key to your success. • Teamwork. I have had many a good chef come through this door with a C.V. that says to me that they can cook, however not till they come into your kitchen do you know what their teamwork is like. I would encourage every new person coming into this industry to adopt a teamwork mentality. As a team you can accomplish great things. When you work as a team people are much more likely to help you out and look after you. Springboard Education at: and To contact us directly email:


10. What are your main tasks in a typical day at work? 11.00 am Part of my job role is looking after the Breakfast Department, so when I first come in the kitchen I will catch up with the Breakfast Chef to make sure all is well and the breakfast service went well. On the weekend my Sous Chef and I will come in at 8.30am to help out on breakfast service as these tend to be the busy days.

11.15am I get in the habit of checking my e-mails first thing in the morning just to make sure I have all the information I need for the day ahead and the week ahead. 11.30am I check with the store person to make sure all my deliveries are in and that there are no problems with my orders. I will also check for the quality of produce coming in I would not expect my chefs to work with anything less than quality produce. 11.45am Catch up with my Executive Head Chef Alan Gibb. We share the same office so there is no real need to have a fixed time for a catch-up but we will discuss the day’s events and if there are any pressure points during the day that he would like me to cover or help out with. 12.00pm This is when I start all the meat and fish preparation, with a 250 cover restaurant there can be quite a lot of meat and fish to prep up and vacuum pack so as to ensure the customer gets the best quality product I can offer. Currently on our menu we have 9 different meat products and 8 different fish products, on a busy day I have to make sure we have at least 30 – 40 portions available. 2.00pm This is when my team of chefs start work. They would have put in an order to me the night before and I would have phoned it in to my suppliers for the next day. Now the chefs will spend the next half an hour or so getting everything they need for the day ahead. Springboard Education at: and To contact us directly email:


3.00pm Daily meeting, we have a daily meeting each day at 3.00pm, this is when I discuss how many covers we have booked in the restaurant that night, how many canapés we have booked and if there are any special daily requirements or dietary requirements. I will also discuss last night’s service if there were any pressure points or complaints and I will discuss the week ahead in terms of the daily house count and covers booked in the restaurant. This is also a time for any of the team to express their concerns or pressure points of the day. 3.30pm My Sous Chef and I will spend the afternoon amongst our team helping out where is needed. Canapés can be quite a strain on the Larder Chef’s time so we spend most of our time helping out with canapés and larder preparation. On the quieter days we usually have one chef to each section so it’s quite important that we make ourselves available to whoever needs a push at the time. I will also send my Sous Chef up to the Bar kitchen to make sure everything is fine there, as it is also part of my role to look after the Bar Kitchen. 6.00pm Start getting ready for dinner service. This will require night time set up - getting the hotplate ready with tray, spoons, paper towels, bowls, plates and checking printer ribbons as the last thing you want is to run out during service. This is also the time we make sure all the chefs are on track for dinner service. The Sous Chef or I will do a protein count so we can encourage the waiting staff team in what we would like them to sell. 7.00pm Dinner service, I will do the hotplate on most nights with my Sous Chef doing the larder section making sure all the starters go out to the standard expected of the team. The restaurant is open from 7.00 till 10.30pm. Once I’ve cleaned down and checked with the Restaurant Manager that all is well it is usually about 11.00pm.

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11.00pm Every night the chefs hand me a protein count check sheet telling me what we have left after service. With this and the figures for the following day I will do my ordering accordingly. I will then sign off the kitchen dry store and wine and spirit orders for the following day. We also have checklists for all the chefs. These include fridge temperatures, blast chiller records, food date labeling and room service nighttime menu food list. After all this is checked I will then put the hours through for the chefs. 11.30pm We have a night time Breakfast Chef who starts at 11.00pm. Their job is to cover 24 hour room service and prep up for breakfast the following morning. I will have a quick catch-up with them to make sure they have everything they need for the night ahead. 12.00pm Time to go home and have a glass of wine. 10. Any other comments you would like to make? On a personal note this trade I work in demands a lot out of you but in return you do get a lot out of it too. However I believe there is a balance that has to be met in order to succeed in both your work and social life and too often I see the breakdown of one or both of these fundamental operations. As a father of three I believe I don’t always get it right and there are times that I have put my work life before my family, but for me the key to succeeding in both areas is very simple - when you’re at work you must be committed to your workplace 100%, but the same must also be said for you home life. The ability to switch off from work is crucial to gaining the balance. I have a partner and three children who I don’t see for 5 days out of 7, but I make sure that I see and spend time with them on the days I’m off and I also make sure I have regular holidays with my family. I do not believe for one minute that mine is the only right way of doing things, but I do believe that each of us has to find the right balance of the two in order to succeed.


Gleneagles’ Vision: 'To be the most desirable resort hotel in the world’ For further information plus details of careers and job opportunities please visit: Springboard Education at: and To contact us directly email:


Glen Eagles Case Study Head Chef  

INDUSTRY ROLE MODEL CASE STUDY – Paul Devonshire, Head Chef, Gleneagles’ Strathearn and main kitchen Springboard Education at: http://educat...

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