"Tom Kerridge has been a massive influence on my career"

The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen spoke to Sarah Hayward, Head Chef at  Tom Kerridge's restaurant, The Coach, about working with the Michelin-starred chef, winning the Michelin Guide’s Young Chef Award, and how the industry is changing for chefs of the future.

Sarah started her career in hospitality working in her father’s pub on the Isle of Wight where she washed up part-time whilst still at school, before undertaking an NVQ Level Two, starting her professional hospitality journey.

From here, it wasn’t long before Sarah undertook her NVQ Level 3, where she relocated Chester to complete her professional studies.

"I started at a hotel called The Royal, which is in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. I did my NVQ Level Two there, and then I continued to do my NVQ Level Three at the Chester Grosvenor, located in the town centre in Chester,” she explained.

After completing her professional studies in Chester, Sarah started working at Lucknam Park in Wiltshire, where she worked at the hotel’s brasserie.

Sarah Hayward


"They've got two different restaurants; they've got a brasserie and the Michelin star restaurant, which was called The Park when I worked there but is now Restaurant Hywel Jones,” she said.

Describing her journey at Lucknam Park in more detail, Sarah revealed: “I started off in the brasserie, I did a year in the brasserie, and then they opened a cookery school. It was Hrishikesh Desai that opened the cookery school, and he asked me if I would like to be a part of it with him. He's an absolutely phenomenal chef so I absolutely jumped at the opportunity to work alongside him."

Missing the bustle of a busy kitchen, Sarah went back to the hotel’s one Michelin-starred The Park restaurant before crossing paths with Tom Kerridge.


Sarah began working with chef legend Tom Kerridge, first at his two Michelin-starred Hand and Flowers in 2015, before joining one Michelin-starred The Coach in 2017, before joining Tom’s The Bull and Bear restaurant in 2019, before returning back to The Coach as Head Chef in October 2021.

“We opened in November 2019 and then in January 2020, I was offered my first head chef position. I was kind of there throughout the horrible stint that was lockdown,” she explained.

"It was obviously very challenging. I think any person's first head chef role, you're going to face a number of challenges you've never really had to face before."

Sarah added: “I actually think it was beneficial for me, but it taught me to learn very quickly, and you had to do a lot of thinking on your feet. Yes, it was very uncertain, but I was very fortunate to be working with two teams that were very, very supportive of their staff. So, I was actually quite fortunate compared to a lot of the industry."

Sarah Hayward and Tom Kerridge

After nearly eight years of working with Tom across some of his most recognised and highly regarded businesses, Sarah’s skills and her reputation are deserved, as one of the country’s most promising young chefs.

Explaining how Tom has helped influence and develop her skills, Sarah said: "Tom Kerridge has been a massive influence on my career. He's been super supportive to me throughout, literally from the minute I walked over the threshold at The Hand and Flowers, he saw something in me and has championed that and has continued to push me and give me new challenges and help me grow into the chef that I've become.”

As well as helping her in a professional sense, Sarah explained how Tom has also helped open the door for her to meet with some of the UK’s best female chefs operating in the industry today.

"It's only since working with Chef Tom that I've met Angela Hartnett, Lisa Allen, and I actually met Clare Smyth at the Michelin Awards this year, and they're all just incredibly talented females that have always continued to inspire," she explained.


In March 2023, following the release of the 2023 edition of the Michelin Guide, Sarah was awarded the Young Chef award, celebrating her raw talent and dedication to offering only the best in hospitality.

Commenting on what the award meant to her, Sarah revealed: "I can honestly tell you I wasn't even close to expecting it. It was the biggest shock, they pretty much had to push me towards the stage because I didn't actually believe that it was me. It was amazing, I just don't think it will ever really truly sink in.”

She added: “I am very, very proud of it and in awe of it. There are a million very talented young chefs up and down the country, and the fact that they picked me, I'm not sure that's something that will ever sink in."

Sarah Hayward, Michelin Guide 2023 Young Chef of the Year

The award, which is given out to just one chef every year, has put Sarah and her cooking prowess centre stage, excelling her name and skills as she continues down the path of development.

"It's definitely put me in the limelight a lot more than before. Michelin are just so prestigious, they carry a massive influence with them wherever because I think everyone's heard of Michelin, it is that very worldwide prestigious body that carry a lot of power,” Sarah explained.

Bringing About Change in the Industry

Looking at the wider industry and the issues it faces, recruiting chefs and encouraging them into hospitality is no easy feat and a challenge being experienced right across the board.

Profiling and celebrating the success of chefs, particularly young chefs who are already influencing the industry at an early part of their career, does provide encouragement and an opportunity to show professionals of the future that this is what you can achieve from the industry.

Sarah Hayward, Lisa Allen, Angela Hartnett, Emma Brightman, Kim Ratcharoen, Nieves Barragán

Explaining how the industry has already changed, Sarah said: "All these challenges that we're all going through together at the moment have already sparked the change to start happening. I think a lot more of the limelight has been on the hospitality industry recently and it has almost kickstarted change. You will find that there's a lot more limelight on mental health issues and creating a better work life balance for chefs."

Sarah added: "I think one of the biggest things about chefs is obviously, the long hours and the low pay, but I think since all this has started, there are a lot more employers making sure that work life balance is more appealing - offering better salaries for chefs and just generally just showcasing a lot more of a respect for the team. I do think that positive change is happening."

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.

The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 7th June 2023

"Tom Kerridge has been a massive influence on my career"