The day the chef got in a stew

EATING egg and bacon ice cream, incurring the wrath of top chef Jean Christophe Novelli, lugging around calves livers and washing up in the Savoy have been all in a day s work for AA hotel and restaurant inspector turned college catering lecturer David M

EATING egg and bacon ice cream, incurring the wrath of top chef Jean Christophe Novelli, lugging around calves' livers and washing up in the Savoy have been all in a day's work for AA hotel and restaurant inspector turned college catering lecturer David Mackrory.

When David, 39, of Mill Lane, Weston, was given the job of going back to see a celebrity chef who had taken exception to his AA restaurant rating, things did not end well.

David and his colleague were not only asked to leave the prestigious Auberge du Lac, but then became the subject of a tale oft-repeated in the national papers.

Novelli's restaurant at Brocket Hall country house hotel in Welwyn had failed to win three rosettes - the mark of true excellence - and the celebrity chef was none too pleased.


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David, now a catering lecturer at Uxbridge College in west London, said: "He had been having a temper tantrum that he was only having two rosettes and he thought he should have three, and we went back to explain to him why we'd made the decision."

However, once the pair revealed their identities as inspectors, Novelli took exception.

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Declaring the pair were not fit to judge his food, he asked them to leave, indicating the garden gate next to their outdoor table.

David said: "He wanted us to leave the restaurant. He was all uppity and only wanted to see the chief inspector."

The next thing they knew, the story was all over the national papers. The incident, which took place in 2003, remains a memorable part of David's career.

During his time as an AA inspector of both hotels and restaurants he visited The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, famous for quirky recipes including snail porridge.

Other unusual dishes he has tasted were bacon and egg ice cream, and foie gras with coffee bean sauce and fig compote.

However, life as an AA inspector was not all about life at the top, and at one hotel, David discovered plastic mattress covers being used.

It turned out the covers were the result of a clientele of road builders who drank so much beer every night they were unable to control themselves and wet the beds.

While a management trainee with the Savoy group, David served coffee and did washing up, worked in the florist department, and the butchers' department where he lugged whole carcasses around.

He said: "Butchers used to hate the trainees and gross you out on purpose, sending you to get a calf's liver or an ox tongue or a sheep's brain. You would get a bit grimy and a bit bloody.

"Other people have a lot more respect for you if they know you have been there and done that."

David says many students joining catering and hospitality courses are influenced by television chefs, but during their studies discover that, while fame is not likely to be part of the package, there are plenty of real opportunities which could lead to a great career.

He said: "A lot of people are very interested in being cooks. Ninety nine per cent of them when they come in here want to be Jamie Oliver, but during the course their perception starts to change.

"Students have a greater appreciation of TV chefs like Anthony Worrall Thompson who, without being rude, haven't achieved as much in terms of accolades and critical acclaim as other, less well-known chefs."

While some might suspect life as a catering lecturer does not match the excitement of hanging around in top restaurants, David says his new job affords a different kind of satisfaction.

He said: "Teaching was something I always wanted to do. When I was 11 I had a really inspiring teacher called Mr Quilliam.

"I have enjoyed my career but for the first time I really feel like I am doing something that matters.

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