I HAVE been with Saïd Business School, University of Oxford since 2008.

Back then the culinary team was just a small team of five, before the expansion of the school saw it expand to 22, as I stepped up from head to executive chef.

Following a daunting request to create an innovative menu for a high-profile dining event at the business school, you could be forgiven for saying my imagination ran a little wild.

I decided to create a “back to front menu” which has proved to be a real hit and was the catalyst for my being named Chef of the Year by foodservice provider BaxterStorey last month.

For this menu we served “tea and biscuits” first and worked our way back to the starter.

Tea and biscuits consisted of miso soup served in a tea pot with wontons.

For dessert we offered a refreshing cucumber soup with avocado ice cream.

For the starter we served “carrot cake” which consisted of a light carrot-based salad.

Due to popular demand I have since created three similar menus following the same theme.

Not bad for a chef who joined the industry because he loved Saturday afternoons cooking with his dad.

I’ve always known I wanted to be a chef. After leaving school, I began my career working two jobs at different restaurants just to gain hands-on experience.

I began as commis chef and worked my way up to chef de partie. I joined hospitality provider BaxterStorey at Oxford Saïd in 2008 as a sous chef, before being promoted to executive head chef, a role I’ve been in for six years now.

Having always lived in and around Oxford, I love the buzz of tourists, students and locals that keep the city really vibrant.

It’s just as energetic in our retail kitchen where we cater for up to 500 business students and staff on a typical week day – it’s a very busy environment.

We are always in competition with the high street, especially with takeaway chains and popular coffee shops located just a short walk away from the school. My general mantra is whatever students can get outside, they can get inside.

My team love street food and having fun with theatre cooking, especially with our middle eastern grill range called Shawarma.

You turn up the grill so a delicious smell wafts around the restaurant – and it always creates a queue.

Especially for grilled chicken served with delicious sides including tzatziki sauce, pickled turnips with our fresh beetroot sauce.

We offer a different street food pop-up every day ranging from sour dough pizzas to gourmet hot dogs.

Our hot food is most popular, so we make sure we keep it interesting and varied so students always have exciting new dishes to choose from.

Our best sellers are from the Asian themed pop-up Rok a Mama. Favourites include the sticky ginger and chilli chicken, miso aubergines, or sticky broccoli and cashew nut salad.

To be a chef you must be passionate about food, but also about people. Our team always take time to memorise coffee orders and say hello by name to customers.

Every September, we host a food festival for new students. Supported by local suppliers and chefs from across our business, we showcase some of the different food and drink products, and exciting menus we have in the restaurant.

Up to 700 students and staff come along and try out the different offerings – who doesn’t love a free lunch after all?

From the morning coffee with freshly baked pastries to serving quesadillas with sweet potato and chorizo; we’re focused on giving customers a great dining experience.

For us, a successful recipe starts with a shot of passion, a dollop of creativity and a generous helping of positivity. And possibly a scoop of avocado ice cream!