Careers masters at Kimberworth Comprehensive were surprised when a lad doing GCSE woodwork announced he wanted to be a chef.
“I think I must have been the first boy there who wanted to cook as a career,” says Chris Pick, now 35 and about to re-open a Dronfield restaurant which once earned accolades from foodies.
“They were amazed, but very supportive and got me on a catering and hospitality course at Rotherham College of Arts and Technology. My uncle was a head chef at the town’s Beeches Hotel and I’d been the teenage pot-washer with big ambitions.”
Chris, of Maltby, didn’t look back. He landed a chef de partie job at Michelin-starred Lower Slaughter Manor in the Cotswolds. On heading back to South Yorkshire, he was head chef at Hellaby Hall for a while and took over Barnsley’s Armstrong’s restaurant with brother Martin, who had followed in his footsteps at Kimberworth Comp and RCAT.
After passing the restaurant on to well-known Sheffield chef Cary Brown, Chris worked at the St Paul’s Mercure Hotel as executive chef before landing a plum job at two-Michelin-starred Seaham Hall in County Durham.
Now he’s bringing his skills – and elegant signature dishes such as lamb three ways and textures of tiramisu – to The Vault, a fine dining restaurant beneath the Dronfield Arms which opened in 2012 to great acclaim, but closed recently.
Featuring contemporary British dishes created from quality produce, The Vault re-opens on Friday November 15. It will run three nights a week with Chris cooking an extensive à la carte, plus a 5-10-5 menu from 5-7pm.