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From Student to Executive Chef

Past graduate Alex Payne recently visited Brooklands College to update us on his latest career move and share some exciting news for the College.

Between 2009 and 2011, Alex successfully completed his NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Professional Cookery. Since then, his career has been on an upward trajectory.

In 2018, Alex gained national attention when he competed in season 11 of MasterChef: The Professionals. 

Before achieving fame, Alex had the privilege of working alongside culinary legends such as Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay. These experiences allowed him to grow in his career and gain invaluable expertise.

Last October, Alex took on the role of Executive Chef at The Tudor Pass in Great Fosters, Egham. This appointment marks another significant milestone in his culinary journey.

 

Alex Payne - Executive Chef

Why did you choose Brooklands College?

“I fell into it really. A Levels didn’t suit me, so I left school and found a job washing pots in the kitchen at Laleham Golf Club. I was encouraged to attend Brooklands College a few days a week to learn cooking skills. The rest of the week I worked in the kitchen. I loved it and discovered my passion for cooking!”

Did you enjoy your time at Brooklands College

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course. I learnt so much and the tutors, Paul and Nigel, have always been there to support me. The professional cookery course at Brooklands is fantastic, because it allows you to learn and work simultaneously. I obtained a recognised diploma upon graduation and joined Foxhills as a Commis Chef, where I acquired the necessary skills to work in a Rosette Awarded Kitchen. Additionally, my cooking techniques were further developed.”

Tell me more about your career

“In 2012 I joined Gordon Ramsay at The Savoy as a Commis Chef, progressing to Demi Chef de Partie in February 2013, and later to Chef de Partie November 2013. Here I learnt how to successfully manage my work load in a busy, well recognised kitchen, whilst maintaining a high standard of quality at all times. I was working 17-hour-days and I loved it!

From London I went to Maidenhead and in 2014 I joined The Hinds Hind, Bray as Demi Chef de Partie and adapted my culinary skills to fit in with the Michelin Star high standards. A year later I was promoted to Chef de Partie, where I pushed myself to learn every section in the kitchen, including pastry and preparation.

The next few years were crazy busy! In 2016 I moved to the exclusive Pennyhill Park Hotel in Bagshot and joined Matt Worswick at The Latymer. I worked closely with Matt Worswick to create new dishes and keep our tasting menu in line with the seasons. Within a year we were awarded 4 AA Rosettes and 1 Michelin Star. I joined as Chef de Partie and became Junior Sous Chef.

During my time at The Latymer, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in MasterChef: The Professionals. This experience allowed me to establish my cooking style. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime chance to cook for and receive feedback from the judges and critics who I deeply admire. After making it through the Quarter Finals and First Knockout rounds, I left the competition in 9th place. Balancing both working full time and MasterChef was challenging, but I believe the experience has enhanced my skills as a chef by teaching me how to handle pressure and adapt to different situations.

From Pennyhill Park I went to the Vineyard in Newbury as Sous Chef and the on to Crockers in Henley as my first Head Chef role.”

If it wasn’t for Brooklands College, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

What are you doing now?

“In October 2022, I took over as Executive Chef at The Tudor Pass at The Great Fosters Hotel in Egham. Within 6 months of opening we were awarded 1 Michelin Star. The Tudor Pass has just seven tables. The team explains & serves many of the dishes directly to diners to bring some of the excitement and theatre into the restaurant, aiming to create lasting memories for our guests.”

Why are you back at Brooklands College?

“I reached out about 6 months ago. I have a past student working for me at the moment and he is doing really well. When he applied for the job, I saw that he had studied at Brooklands College and I knew he would do well. It made me think about Brooklands College and how I could possibly help the students and give back. If it wasn’t for Brooklands College I wouldn’t be where I am now.

I am working with Nigel and Paul and I will be teaching Michelin Star menu classes to their catering & hospitality students. Our first class will be in January. I am excited to work with the College to teach and train future chefs.

Do you have any words of wisdom to future chefs

“Just keep work hard and doing what you are doing. Be 100% committed and you will be amazed at what you can achieve and how far you can go.”

Catering & Hospitality Courses


The Tudor Pass

The Tudor Pass is a Michelin starred restaurant in Surrey with only seven tables, open Wednesday – Saturday for both lunch & dinner. 

Find out more

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Brooklands College Weybridge Campus

Heath Road, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 8TT

Brooklands College Ashford Campus

Stanwell Road, Ashford TW15 3DU