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Jordan Bailey and Majken Bech Christensen Aimsir
food envy

'You can teach someone to cook but you can't teach personality': 5 things I've learned as a three-star Michelin chef

Jordan Bailey, head chef at Aimsir, shares the lessons from his life in food.

ONE OF THE most highly-anticipated restaurant openings in the coming months is a restaurant inspired by the weather in County Kildare. Aimsir opens at Cliff at Lyons shortly and is led by Cornwall-born chef Jordan Bailey, former head chef at three-star Michelin restaurant Maaemo in Oslo, Norway.

Joining him in the restaurant is his Danish front of house manager and wife Majken Bech Christensen. The young couple moved to Ireland in January and have been busy exploring the food producers and ingredients of their newly adopted home. 

These two newlyweds – in their twenties – are now making a home together in Ireland and celebrating a larder that is new to both of them.

“Exploring what Ireland has to offer has been a fantastic experience,” says Aimsir head chef Jordan Bailey. “Our larder is full of exceptional ingredients and great produce. I’m really looking forward to only using ingredients picked and sourced from the island’s larder.”

Here, Jordan shares the five things he’s learned along the way.

1. Set yourself rules

“From the beginning I had set myself three firm rules that I used to select restaurants I would approach to potentially work with. They are: go up, never down – whether that’s a new position or in relation to the restaurant’s accolades; don’t go to the same place twice; and then lastly, go to a place where the named chef is still present at the restaurant. At the end of the day there is no better way of learning this craft than from the masters themselves.”

2. Never forget where you came from

“I started cooking when I was 19, late to the game compared to most, so I have been cooking for around 10 years. When I look back at my culinary journey it seems like a lifetime ago, but I still remember and will always be grateful to all the people that have helped, guided and mentored me along the way.

“Even though time moves so quickly, always try and keep in contact with these people and never burn bridges. This industry is extremely small and you never know when you might need them.”

3. Remember the people who grow the food

“As a chef we think our lives are hard with the long hours, low pay, harsh environments but this is only peanuts compared to all the farmers and fishermen out there working their lands and sailing the seas.

“These unsung heroes work day and night, through extreme weather conditions, seven days a week, so that they can supply us with fresh vegetables or fish to our air-conditioned restaurants.

“As chefs we can take raw produce to a finished dish in a matter of hours but the farmers have been tending to this raw product for weeks, months or even years before it arrives at our doors. So next time you pick up the phone to moan at a supplier, that they didn’t deliver the specific colour of carrot you ordered, maybe think twice about how you deal with it.”

4. Make time for friends and family

“As a chef you tend to forget about your friends and family due to the busy time schedules, working weekends and missing most birthdays, christenings, weddings and get togethers. But don’t let this be an excuse.

“You need each other more than you realise, especially when times get rough or you need some advice, so even if you don’t have time to take the trip home make the effort and pick up the phone and call.”

5. Your CV isn’t everything

“While working as head chef in my last restaurant we had hundreds of CVs sent to us for stages. We only had a few places to fill so I had to be picky with the ones I chose. I normally went for the chefs who had previous Michelin experience thinking that they would be the right fit in our team.

“As we got to the quieter months for applicants around Christmas I had be less selective regarding experience. That Christmas I noticed a change in the atmosphere within the kitchen and it was for the better. Even though this group of stagiaires didn’t have the Michelin backgrounds, they made up with their incredible attitude, hard work, willingness to learn and positivity. It really made me think about what was important. You can teach someone how to fillet a fish, make a sauce or whatever it may be, but it’s not as easy to change someone’s personality.”

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