Inspired creations of Head Chef Paul Welburn, whose food has the critics talking. Paul is renowned for adding a modern twist to some of Britain’s favourite dishes.
Paul’s career has spanned top London restaurants and private yachts in the South of France. He trained with some of the best British chefs, including Gary Rhodes and Richard Corrigan, has years of Michelin-star cooking experience, including holding a star himself for five years as Head Chef at W1, and has appeared on The Great British Menu.
When did you decide you wanted to be a chef and why?
From a very early age I knew catering was the choice for me, after that it was simple, to give this career 110% and be the best I can be, no matter what. The creativity and the pride you take from taking amazing ingredients and producing great dishes is what I take pleasure in.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date?
Winning and maintaining a coveted Michelin star and 3 AA rosettes for 5 years, also being picked to represent my region of the North East on the Great British Menu TV show.
What was it like being on the Great British Menu?
Very tough and stressful but at the same time you have a great sense of pride and it was a great achievement.
What are your favourite ingredients to work with?
For me anything seasonal and fresh gets me excited throughout the year, but if I had to choose I’d say fresh Scottish langoustines and scallops and when in season, game.
Who are your biggest influences?
My parents, and all the chefs I have worked for, they built up my food style, food passion and determination that has allowed me to evolve over the years.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The creativity, taking amazing produce and ingredients that are in season and with the team creating and evolving new dishes.
What interested you about the Oxford Kitchen?
The potential of the place, it’s a humble site that exceeds customer’s expectations, a trait I have always followed.
What changes have you made here so far?
The menu has evolved so far, it now has my style on the plate of British and European flavours with seasonal ingredients using both classical and modern techniques, we have launched the Chefs Tasting Menu on which are dishes I have created over the years and mean a lot to me, and we plan to add events and special menus throughout the calendar year to keep things fresh.
Where do you want The Oxford Kitchen to be this time next year, what do you want to have achieved here?
We’re not chasing accolades, the customers are the most important and the team evolving and improving is paramount, but if we can push on and improve our standings in the guides and publications well that would be amazing.
If you could choose any three celebrities to invite to The Oxford Kitchen for dinner who would you invite and why?
Kenny Dalglish – obviously have to invite the King of the Kop, Jodie Kidd – working with her and supporting her pub opening last year she is an incredible and hardworking person not just from a personal point of view but her work with charities was inspirational plus she is a right laugh as well… David Jason, I think he is a legend and a comedy genius and he would certainly create a great atmosphere.
Give me a whistle stop tour of your career so far.
Born and raised in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, decided early catering was for me and took on a 3 year course at the local college and a job at the Star Inn (now 1 Michelin star pub) followed, moved to London after a work experience at Le Manoir to join Gary Rhodes, Michelin 1 star Rhodes at The Square. After nearly 3 years I took a private chef role in Cannes for a casino owner for the season then returned to London to join the opening team of The Gherkin Tower with Richard Corrigan, after several years moved as sous chef to the opening of Rhodes W1 (back with Gary again) and we won a Michelin star in months; took over as head chef and was awarded and retained the star and 3 AA rosettes for 5 years. After that I became one of the exec chefs in Searcys helping to oversee and plan 3 openings and 3 relaunches of several sites.
I then moved to Sussex and took over at the Leconfield, within the year we were awarded another rosette, were shortlisted for the menu of the year, and included in the Tattler Food Awards, then supported as a consultant chef the opening of the Half Moon Pub with owner Jodie Kidd, moving to Oxford to take up my current role at The Oxford Kitchen.
Which chefs do you admire?
Thomas Keller – what he has created and built is a testament to the chef he is. Gary Rhodes gave me my first Head chef role and the chance to lead a Michelin star and 3 AA rosette restaurant at a very early age. The Roux family, I don’t think the food scene or the level of chefs in this country would be the same without Albert and Michel they revolutionised the industry.
What are your plans for TOK?
Keep pushing and evolving the team and the food, one step at a time and make sure we meet all expectations and keep the good reputation already created so far moving in the right direction.
You’re new to Oxford what do you think to it so far?
Oxford has so much potential from a food point of view, it’s a great city, obviously not as intense as London but still with a great vibe.
What was it like to score the perfect 10/10 from legend Phil Howard?
Amazing! Not many chefs get maximum scores on GBM and to get that from a 2 Michelin star chef for a dish, was a very, very proud moment.
Beer or wine?
Beer in the pub, wine with food.
Football, rugby or cricket?
Chocolate or crisps?
Christmas or New Year?
Beaches or ski slopes?