Many chefs dream of winning Michelin stars, but for all they’ve given chef Daniel Clifford in terms of prestige and success, they made him a “terrible person,” he says.
Speaking at the recent Food on the Edge symposium in Galway, Ireland in the video above, Clifford, of Englands’ two Michelin star Midsummer House restaurant, described how unprepared he was for winning his first star. “The shock of one star hit me and I wasn’t ready for it … it took me to a place where I wasn’t a very nice person,” he says.
Clifford trained under Marco Pierre White, back when, he says rather tongue in cheek, “kitchen abuse was at its best” and “Marco was on form.” At the restaurants he was at before Midsummer, staff turnover was high due to the working conditions, but Clifford says being able to handle the abuse was like a drug for him, something he describes as “totally wrong” now.
But following Midsummer House’s second star, two years after the first, he became, in his own words, “proper terrible.”
Bullying and all round bad behaviour in kitchens is something chef Anna Haugh also picked up on during her talk at Food on the Edge, and Clifford obviously deeply regrets the way he’s behaved previously and is more reflective now. “My journey’s maybe not the correct one … it’s our job to nurture … the future is making chefs better than me,” he says.
Clifford also discusses his decision to stop selling foie gras following protests and how, as a young chef, he wrote to all the two and three-Michelin-star restaurants in France looking for work, with some writing back telling him he would have to pay them to work there.
Watch the video in full above.