“My dad made Marco Pierre White look like a pussycat,” says Aaron Patterson, the long-standing, Michelin-starred chef of Hambleton Hall in Rutland. “He was a chef and I was roped in as cheap labour from a young age – he was a very hard task master but it set me up. I’ve lived in hotels and restaurants my whole life.”
Literally born into the trade, Patterson came from the unlikely union of an Irish nun and a Scottish chef (“I must have been the product of immaculate conception!”) and travelled around the country, as his parents took different jobs in hospitality.
“My mother died when I was eleven and my dad was at work, so I had to feed myself and there was no choice but to start cooking. I was the first boy at my school to demand to do home economics – it was a catholic school and no boy had ever requested to do it. I kicked up a fuss and got a really hard time for it, of course.”
After leaving school, Patterson landed his first job at Hambleton Hall on his sixteenth birthday – working with Nick Gill, brother of the Times food critic AA Gill. He then embarked on a succession of roles with big name chefs including Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Pierre Koffmann at Le Tante Claire and Anton Mosiman, before heading back to Hambleton Hall – where he’s remained for a whopping twenty-two years – with owner, Tim Hart, making him a partner in the business.