We are delighted to bring you the next instalment of Academy Minutes, published in conjunction with the Academy of Culinary Arts. The aim of this blog is to highlight the variation of individual stories of some of the industry’s most well regarded chefs. In this issue we look behind the scenes at Brian Turner’s career.
Brian Turner CBE, President of the Academy of Culinary Arts
“Gone full circle”
Brian first realised his interest in cooking by controversially joining the girls in domestic science classes at school. Brian’s father (who was also in the industry) owned a transport café where Brian worked from a very young age. Brian was in charge of making bacon and sausage sandwiches and those who could not afford meat had the pleasure of trying their famous tomato dipped bread. Working in the transport café alongside his father became a daily routine which Brian enjoyed very much.
When Brian was faced with the career prospects of either mining or working in cloth factories, he chose neither and instead headed off to catering college in Leeds. In the midst of his catering course Brian took a holiday job at Butlins where he very quickly learnt the ways of the industry.
Brian’s next stop was London, where he got a job at Simpson’s on the Strand (a means to get to The Savoy Grill). As intended he made it to The Savoy Grill – chancing his way into an interview, he simply walked into the chef’s office as a chef at Simpson’s and walked out as a new addition to The Savoy Grill team.
Brian later spent some time at the Beau Rivage Palace, Lausanne, Switzerland where he learnt a great deal about the industry and French cooking. Brian returned to Yorkshire but soon moved back to London having been offered work at Claridge’s.
In 1971 he was asked to join the team at The Capital Hotel as Sous Chef to Richard Shepherd. In 1974 they gained a Michelin Star in the days when these awards were rarely awarded to a British restaurant. Brian stayed at The Capital Hotel for 15 years.
In 1986 Brian joined forces with Martin Davis opening Turners on Walton Street, however turbulent times led to near bankruptcy in 1991. In 1992 he was approached by Antony Worrall-Thompson and asked to work on TV – Brian hasn’t looked back since.
In 2001 Brian opened Brian Turner Restaurant at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Birmingham’s NEC in association with the catering company, ARAMARK. This was then followed by the opening of ‘Brian Turner Mayfair’ at the Millennium Hotel, and then Turner’s Grill at the Copthorne Hotel in Slough. The contracts for these restaurants have now come to an end.
Brian currently works on various fronts at food festivals and events around the country and abroad. He is also heavily involved with consultancy, media and several charities. He is about to launch Turner’s at Butlins Bognor Regis, with two more to come within the group. Commenting on the return to his early roots in the industry, Brian says:
‘It’s great to be back at Butlins cooking for families, they are the future of our industry, both as chefs and customers.’