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Paul Mattocks is the Executive Chef of the VSC Events Team. His career has taken an interesting route. “I started as a kitchen porter aged 15, then a year later, I joined the military. I went to army catering college for 2 years; subsequently my tours of duty included Germany, Canada, Bosnia, Ireland, Kenya, Iraq, Cyprus, USA & Jordan and the UK, finally leaving after 24 years at the rank of Warrant Officer. After leaving the army, I did stages in the Dorchester & Cinnamon Club to gain commercial experience, I owned my own eatery in Camden, worked as an operations manager for a restaurant chain in the City and Head Chef for a Events Company before working as a catering consultant for festivals and events all over Europe and the UK. I’ve worked out that I’ve visited 45 countries and I’ve picked up recipe ideas in the majority of them. As a chef, you’re continually expanding your culinary knowledge!”

Away from the noise of battle and indeed that of a festival in full swing, Paul runs the kitchen team at the VSC with military efficiency. “Every day, I check through the orders, liaise with our Kitchen Manager about all the events on that day, brief the staff and write the menus. After lunch service, I’ll interview potential members of staff or pop up to the roof garden to see what’s ready to pick. No two days are the same.”

Paul runs a team of around 25 although it can rise to as many to 30 in busy periods. Everyone is kept very busy, cooking lunch for up to 200 covers. Paul likes to keep an eye on trends. “Live theatre food is very in at the moment, as is Australasian and Japanese cuisine. We want to meet our guests’ expectations, which are high, just as they should be. We keep a weather eye out for trends and do our research.”

Paul himself prefers simple, well-cooked and seasonal food. “I don’t like putting anything on a plate that isn’t to do with the dish or detracts from it. I’m a big fan of textures - plates need to be balanced and appeal to the guest’s palate as well as their eye.

Since Paul started his career, he’s seen plenty of changes. “When I started out, the vegetarian option was the main course minus the meat! Nowadays, we have plenty of vegetarian and vegan options for our event guests, as well as being aware of dietary intolerance and requirements. Allergens are a massive part of catering. You have to think on your feet and be ready to work with the guests.”

The kitchen at the VSC prides itself on leadership skills and staff development. A number of members of key staff started out as casual kitchen porters, but after training, they have risen through the ranks. The VSC is a member of the London-wide League of Club Chefs, an organisation which aims to develop chefs’ core skills. “For me, it’s all about loyalty and team spirit,” Paul explains. “We invest in our people and in return, we have a remarkably high retention rate and a fantastic team. We pride ourselves on producing excellent food for the weddings, parties, conferences and award ceremonies held here at the VSC and I’m proud of what goes out of our kitchen to feed our guests.”

With Paul in charge, it’s no wonder that the Events Team at the VSC are seeing such an increase in bookings for all kinds of events at their welcoming Central London venue.