'I don't think I'll ever be content - you're never content with what you have are you, you always want to do better, and I think that's a good trait'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Ruth Hansom is a force to be reckoned with. 

It would seem at least like the threat of succumbing to pressure has never been an issue for Ruth - she has tackled many a challenge head on in competitions on and off screen, alongside some of the country's most skillfull chefs. 

Grilled by The Staff Canteen · S2 Ep 43: Ruth Hansom

As soon as she had decided that this would be her career path, the chef moved out of her Darlington home to work for Freddie Forster - aged just 16.

"I finished my GCSEs, found a flat on Gumtree and gave him a call, said I'm in London, I need a job... Help!"

When I ventured that he must have seen promise in her risk-taking, adventurous personality, she smiled and said: "Yeah, a madwoman."


One of her most formative experiences (other than working at the Ritz, winning the Craft Guild's YCOTY competition and reaching the finals of Great British Menu) was a competition called WorldSkills, a vocational challenge which puts apprentices from all industries to the test. 

"It's like the vocational Olympics," she said. "There's a hairdresser, a bricklayer, a beautician and a chef." 

"You train for three or four years before and it's not just about your specific skill," she explained, "but also about how you react to different situations," namely through psychology training, 

"It was very intense, but I learned so much, not just about bettering my cooking skills but my competing skills and being able to thrive." 

"Everything else that I've done after it has been like, 'oh, this is fine.'" 

Ruth inherited a love for growing things from her aunt and uncle, and, in an act of teenage rebellion, dug up her mum's garden to replace it with her own vegetable patch. 

"At least I made it look nice," she muttered under her breath.

But it was thanks to Springboard's FutureChef competition that she even contemplated the idea of becoming a chef.

"Being a chef has got a certain stigma," she said. 

"I always thought that I would go to university, and at that point I wanted to become a doctor. 

"If I'd have said to twelve year-old me, 'you're going to be a chef' I would've laughed, because I thought that it was something that people fall into and I think that's what a lot of people think." 

The value of competitions that highlight how great the industry is is unparalleled in her eyes - and the reason why she still supports the charity.

"[They] make it more of a professional industry, rather than what people think it is if they're not in the industry." 

The Princess of Shoreditch

It's been a year of stops and starts for everyone, but for Ruth it's been more like three: from her Million Pound Menu private dining project, Epoch (the demise of which she diplomatically chooses to be tight-lipped about) to her stint as the head chef at Pomona's, from which she departed in early March. 

But at The Princess of Shoreditch, she finally gets to give the world aa glimpse of what she's made of. As close to having your own restaurant as one can imagine, Ruth not only designed the menu, helped choose everything from the decor to the tableware and cutlery.

"I've had so much input, it's been great. Because those things matter as well - at the end of the day, it's not just the food, all the little things do support what you're making." 

With this project, she said: "I've been really lucky. I've found a great owner who shares the same views and beliefs and goals as I do, so it's very exciting to be involved." 

"Ever since I left the Ritz, in my previous roles, it's like everything, you start a project and it seems great right at the beginning, but then slowly down the road you realise that maybe your hopes and aspirations and that of the owners don't really meet." 

"At the beginning everybody's excited to be working together so they ignore any niggles that they've got - and then further down the road, you're like: 'Actually, we don't see eye to eye.'" 


Every dish on the menu showcases great English ingredients, Ruth's way of showing off the best the nation's producers have to offer. 

"Especially now, it's really important to support small suppliers and producers," she said. "I think Covid has really emphasised that and a lot more people have thought about it." 

British producers, she added "are actually fantastic."

"They're so much better than 10-20 years ago," when France dominated the fruit, vegetable and cheese markets.

"We have got so much better at so many things, I think it's important to highlight and showcase that." 

Stay tuned

Asked whether she feels settled and content in her new role she said:"I don't think I'll ever be content - you're never content with what you have are you, you always want to do better, and I think that's a good trait" 

"Keep progressing and things will get better and better and that's all I want for myself and the team here."

"You should never say: 'right that's it, I'm content.' You always want to better yourself." 

Asked if she would ever consider leaving the capital, she said: "That's a difficult one, but no. Not now anyway. Maybe when I'm old." 

But at just 25 years of age, she still has a few years of work to put in - and we're not complaining.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 5th November 2020

'I don't think I'll ever be content - you're never content with what you have are you, you always want to do better, and I think that's a good trait'