Meet James A career developing menu design ideas with wholesale sauces

Meet James…a keen gamer and passionate executive chef from Newtownards, Co Down.

Having dragged James away from his work (as if), I managed to conduct a mini like interview with him to find out a little more about his background and role within Rich Sauces.

1)      So James, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Well Dora, I’m originally from Bangor but moved to Ards as soon as I got married (her choice!) and have been working as an executive chef for Rich Sauces for a number of years now. When I’m not working, I can be found gaming away on the sofa with Tammy the dog! (But don’t worry the wife doesn’t mind – she has her kindle!)

2)      So how did you become an executive chef?

Well I’d always wanted to become a chef so at the age of 16, I left school and studied one day a week at tech whilst training at Jenny Watts (renowned for their famous rib night!) After this, I began working in various hotels and restaurants around Ards before being attracted to a 9 to 5 canteen job at Rich Sauces. In this role, it give me a chance to learn their wholesale sauces and become confident in the benefits they offered – especially as I was only allowed to make dishes with them! From here, I aspired to undertake an executive chef job developing menu design ideas that a previous colleague was doing and on occasions this occurred especially when he got very busy. However, with time, this helping out ended up turning into a full time job for me! – complicated enough? eh?


3)      So as an executive chef, what does your typical day involve?

It really depends, duties can vary day to day. Some days can be spent preparing for onsite or offsite presentations, neatly slicing food ingredients for example and other days can be spent developing lots of cafe menu ideas to correspond with new catering food supplies – after all you don’t want a one trick pony sauce! With regards to shows, I’m totally responsible for these developing their menus and ensuring the correct equipment arrives for example.

4)      When out on a presentation call, how long would you typically spend?

Again, this really depends on how much a customer wishes to see and how responsive they are. In a sandwich presentation with around 20 different café menu ideas, I ask customers to allow 1-2 hours but for a full presentation including cold and hot applications typically longer is required from 3 + hours. With an onsite presentation however, I can set time parameters to suit whereas off site I only use the time offered.


5)      Do you receive feedback from these presentations?

Yes sometimes I do receive some feedback emails but I don’t expect them nor do I ask customers to rate my presentations – I’m more about adapting to their business needs. Our distributors/ catering food suppliers are always very appreciative as I aim to present using a range of their products not just focusing on Rich Sauces.

6)      And when you’re out on the road, how do you find communication with the head office?

Extremely easy, I have a hands free kit in the van so I’m always contactable unless in a meeting. Normally, I could be talking with my boss Pam up to 4 times a day.

7)      In terms of products, which ones do you think are the best sellers?

Without doubt, I would say our Great Taste Award winning Garlic Mayonnaise is definitely the most popular especially as my end users are deli staff who use mayonnaise a lot in their dishes. I would say chipotle sauce too… but only because it’s a personal favourite!



8)      And who are the main customers that would purchase these products?

Most convenience stores including the major symbol groups. I’ve been hugely involved with businesses recently designing ranges of sandwiches and deli counters.

9)      Is there any challenges to your job?

Yes of course, every job has challenges and I’d be lying if I said mine was any different! Meeting deadlines can definitely prove challenging at times but most of all a major challenge for me is wanting to do my job right – basically I’m my own horses critic!

10)   In your time at Rich Sauces, what’s the best advice you’ve received?

Make sure to get a cuddle at the end of the day. Only joking. Well this is going back a while, but I can remember when I was just starting out, one of the first tasks I was given was to carry out a presentation to a chef who owned over 100 restaurants. As you can imagine I was petrified, afraid they knew more than me, afraid they had more experience than me and ultimately afraid they would ask me a question I wouldn’t know how to answer – in my eyes I was doomed! But having been called into a meeting with Trevor (Chairman of Rich Sauces) just before the presentation I was given the best advice that I still adhere to today – ‘James what are you afraid of? – they know nothing about Rich Sauces you do - they may well be an expert in their field but you are an expert in yours!’


11)   On that note, have you any advice for someone new starting in your role?

Simple –You’ve got to love what you do! The days can be long with irregular hours and if this doesn’t suit you then it’s maybe not the job for you!

12)   Finally can you see any major trends for the future?

Without doubt, street food is definitely the next foody trend - already deli’s are going crazy for it!

So there you have it… a brief interview with James complete.