5 Big Questions: THEO CLENCH


Who would do the graft needed to be a Head Chef in the 21st century?

Did the Covid-19 pandemic change the restaurant industry forever?

And what is it like to have a Michelin star?


In this week’s 5 Big Questions interview we talk to Executive Chef of Akoko THEO CLENCH



  • Twitter: @akokorestaurant
  • Insta: @cheftheoclench | @akokorestaurant

Known for:

  • Executive Chef – Akoko
  • Brand Ambassador – Krug
  • Former Head Chef – The Portland Restaurant (one Michelin star)
  • Former Head Chef – Bonhams Restaurant (one Michelin star)

The 5 Big Questions:

    1. How do you measure the impact of what you do?
    2. How should people/businesses be preparing for the future?
    3. How do we build the workforce we need for that future?
    4. How do you use creativity to solve problems?
    5. How do you collaborate?

Key quotes:

“It was twelve, thirteen years of climbing the ladder. Starting at the bottom every time.”

“I think every restaurant has little photos of all the critics in the cloakroom somewhere, that you see before you go into the kitchen every morning.”

“My friends who are now at Head Chef level – we don’t run our kitchens like they were run when we were junior. You’ve got to get the best out of people and screaming and shouting at them all the time is not the way to do it. You’ve got to build up their confidence, build up their skills. As clichéd as it is, you are only as good as your team.”

“Brexit has decimated our industry and many industries, especially combined with Covid. People have gone home and can’t come back.”

“Trying to get the next generation in is the only way that we’re going to be able to fix this, in the long term. But trying to entice them into an industry that’s had some bad press before, all the long hours, it’s tough. It takes a certain type of person to want to put the work in. I’ve done years of hundred hour weeks.” 

“Everyone spent a year at home and you couldn’t go out. So people were cooking a lot more at home and becoming very good home cooks. I think that may be the death of the chains and the casual restaurants. Why would you go out and drop thirty quid when you can make a nice meal at home?”

Useful links

This episode was recorded in November 2021

Interviewer: Richard Freeman for always possible

Editor: CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts


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