It may have been music that first brought Andrew Morris to London, but it was food that kept him there. Australian-born Andy landed in the capital planning to forge a career as a DJ and music producer, but found himself pivoting into the kitchen instead, training as a chef at Leith’s School of Food and Wine. From here, he worked his way around some of the most celebrated kitchens in the capital – from the Ledbury and the Anglesea Arms in Hammersmith to Providores in Marylebone – before co-launching the Brackenbury in the West End.
Now, he’s back in the classroom. As chef tutor at the Waitrose Cookerys School’s Finchley Road outpost (one of the supermarket’s three schools – the others are in King’s Cross and Salisbury), Andy dispenses the hands-on culinary wisdom he has picked up over the course of his career.
After last month’s NCSG Restaurant Recipes event at the Ivy, where Andy worked with Ivy executive chef Gary Lee to share secrets from the legendary Soho kitchen with a lucky group of Waitrose Cookery School guests, we caught up with him to find out more about his love affair with food and teaching…
How did you first get into food?
I did my first cooking course when I was 13. It was not until I was 40 that I retrained as a chef.
You’ve had quite a career on the London restaurant scene before you came to Waitrose. What made you move from the kitchen to the classroom?
I had ticked a lot of the boxes in restaurants and wanted a new challenge. Imparting knowledge is something I love, as is seeing the delight on our customers’ faces when they cook something delicious.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Juggling time between teaching, course development and running a big unit like the Waitrose Cookery School.
…and the best?
Working with a very talented team who constantly teach me new delicious recipes. Also the satisfaction that teaching brings has surprised and delighted me.
Do you have a favourite class or topic that you teach?
We do a Mexican day course which is really delicious. We cook an authentic chilli con carne, which most people haven’t actually had. Spoiler alert: there is no mince!
What do you think is the trickiest dish/technique that your teach in your classes?
Gâteau Opéra [a complex layered almond sponge cake]is tricky but very satisfying. We do a matcha -flavoured one on our Japanese patisserie course.
How would you describe the atmosphere in the Waitrose kitchen?
I think it’s important for there to be a calm confidence in the kitchen. Smiles and fun are up there as well. We can potentially cook three times a day – it should be enjoyable!
What do you think makes Waitrose Cookery Schools stand out?
I think our customer service is outstanding, along with the skill of the chefs in all three schools. We are the only food retailer with a cookery school and it really helps customers discover how to get the best out of our fantastic products.
Do you think some people are just bad cooks, or can everyone be saved?
Repetition is a weapon. Just keep plugging away and you will get there. Start with 4–5 favourites and practise.
What’s your favourite ingredient to work with?
Fresh pasta – lovely to work with and so versatile.
Are there any ingredients that you use in your classes that you don’t actually like yourself?
I’m not a fan of goat’s cheese.
What are your three desert-island dishes?
1.Fried chicken (very good quality)
2. Beef rendang curry
3. Pasta vongole