The Alchemist’s executive chef Seamus O’Donnell has been rewarded with the new title of culinary director at the chain.
Mr O’Donnell has been instrumental in the expansion of the cocktail bar and restaurant group, growing its food offer by developing classic dishes with an Alchemist twist and driving up standards on its kitchens.
Having worked his way up through the industry – including a number of years at Living Ventures – he joined The Alchemist five years ago and now oversees a brigade of around 350 chefs across 20 UK restaurants.
Mr O’Donnell is well-regarded for the care and respect with which he treats his chefs and, as his responsibility within the business has grown, he has worked hard to ensure chefs are properly incentivised and operate in an environment where they are valued and given room to grow.
Speaking to FEJ before the crisis began, Mr O’Donnell revealed he employs a philosophy in the kitchen that is based around the words ‘trust, honesty and reliability’.
He explained: “Whether I am dealing with a chef, a new recruit, a new supplier or anyone, I go by the values of trust, honesty and reliability – I even use it outside in my personal life. If they don’t have those values we can’t match up because if you can’t trust someone to be honest, you can’t rely on them.
“And that works both ways. They need to be able to trust you, so they can rely on you, so they can be honest with you. It doesn’t matter which way you put them, they all interlink. The Alchemist logo consists of a triangle with a circle on the outside and that really represents this thinking.”
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Mr O’Donnell had been arranging The Alchemist’s first ever internal culinary competition.
He was planning to close one of its restaurants for the day and invite chefs from its branches around the UK to compete for prizes and share ideas.
That event will need to be rescheduled when the time is right, but it demonstrates his desire to promote camaraderie and reward exceptional performance.
“If you have got happy chefs, you have got happy kitchens, and if you’ve got happy kitchens, you’ve got good food. And if you’ve got good food, you have got customers, and if you have got customers you have got a business. It goes back into that circle,” he said.