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14 May 2024

Craft Guild of Chefs Chairman Mark Reynolds on keeping the Guild modern, inclusive and fit for the future

Craft Guild of Chefs Chairman Mark Reynolds on keeping the Guild modern, inclusive and fit for the future

HRC and International Salon Culinaire sit down with new Craft Guild of Chefs Chairman Mark Reynolds, Regional Executive Chef at Levy UK + Ireland, to learn about his plans for the future of the Guild and his history with the organisation. 

Hi Mark, congratulations on becoming Chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs! How have the past few weeks been?

To be fair its been a whirlwind couple of weeks. It started off with going to Buckingham Palace to present Sir Tony [Johnstone-Burt], the King's right hand man and our President, an honorary membership which was a huge honour in itself. This was followed by having a dinner at Claude Bosi’s restaurant at the Peninsula Hotel which was an amazing experience and a jaw-dropping building.

The next week started by attending the tasting for the awards dinner at the Grosvenor House (which was a lovely meal and we are all in for a treat for sure), and finished with dining at Core by Clare Smyth, which really is a restaurant everyone should try at least once, the service and food is off the scale. I asked Andrew Green, our COO, if this was the norm he just laughed and assured me it wasn’t.

Next week I will be back at the Palace to attend the King's garden party. I am covered in bruises as I keep pinching myself to see if its all real. It was a real honour to be voted in as Chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs and I am totally humbled to be given the opportunity.

What would you like to achieve/implement as Chair?

I think my main priority is to continue the good work the past chairman Matt Owens put in, he really has put the Guild back on the map to be one of the world’s leading chef organisations. My main goal will be to ensure the Guild is kept modern, inclusive, and fit for the future, and this will be no mean task I’m sure.

I have lots of ideas I would like to introduce like putting in a Chairman’s charity and updating some of our back-of-house systems which will help the Guild to be more accessible to all and help us to be able to grow in the right way in the future. I think we all hope in our time in the Chair of the Guild as an organisation it will grow and build on its past success.

Why did you first start to take an active role in the Craft Guild of Chefs?

As a young chef I always looked up to the senior chefs within in the Guild and was determined to become part of it one day. I wanted to make a difference in developing young chefs and the Guild has a huge influence in the industry, for me this was an avenue to explore and support this. I have since become part of Future Chef which amazes me every year with the quality and determination the young chefs show, fingers crossed we manage to encourage a lot of them to make a career in our wonderful industry.

What value do you think the Guild provides to the chef community?

It gives them a platform to improve and push themselves like National Chef of the Year (NCOTY), Young National Chef of the Year (YNCOTY) and the grads and not forgetting world skills, but also we are there when things are not going so well to support them through difficult times by offering help from within our own team and partners we work closely with.

Its important to know the Guild is always there for help and advice whatever stage you are in your career.

What are some of the major trends and challenges facing chefs this year?

I think street food will still be very much on trend this year there is some amazing flavours and ideas coming out of this sector, we will always want fine dining and long may this continue and develop but there definitely a place for both.

A challenge for all chefs this year will be controlling costs with food prices still rising, the cost of living and peoples wages it will put massive strains on all of us but with the right planning and not being frightened to think outside of the box I think the future is bright for our industry.

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