How does he manage?: Executive chef - John Hearn Tapenade, Farnham, Surrey

- When did you become a manager?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

When I was 18, as a chef at Kempton Park Racecourse. There were only two of us, working with a bank of casual staff. I learnt from my mistakes, like not being clear enough and not understanding people as well as I do now.

- What does management mean to you?

Keeping sight of the details. We cater for big events like the British Grand Prix, and I control everything from the menu planning and tastings to the staffing. But flavours, textures and even the crockery are just as important. That's why I never want to lose the hands-on approach. My team can be as many as 40 or as few as one, and I jump in whenever I see something not right, whether that's the guy working on the sauce or the lad washing pots. But I'm not a shouter. I don't get the best out of people by screaming. If I've done my job properly I shouldn't need to.

- What do you like/dislike about your job?

I love getting paid for my passion, plus I get to eat in all the best restaurants. And I never stop learning. At a dinner last night I did a slow-cooked duck egg, which took four-and-a-half hours in a water basket. If I'd done that a few years ago everyone would have laughed. If I want to do something different that needs me to be on the job for 20 hours, then I will be. It's my reputation on the line, after all.

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