Cooking up a business
AN opportunity to run a gastro-pub in the heart of the Essex countryside was the prize up for grabs to participants of Jamie Oliver s current TV programme. The Cock inn in Beazley End is at the centre of the celebrity chef s latest TV instalment Jamie s C
AN opportunity to run a gastro-pub in the heart of the Essex countryside was the prize up for grabs to participants of Jamie Oliver's current TV programme.
The Cock inn in Beazley End is at the centre of the celebrity chef's latest TV instalment Jamie's Chef where the winner, one of four graduates from his Fifteen training scheme, is handed the keys and made manager and head chef.
Contestant John Relihan pulled out of the contest, leaving Taz Robinson, Aaron Craze and Dennis Duncanson fighting it out, and last week on the Channel 4 programme Aaron was handed the keys.
The final two shows, this week and next week, focus on Aaron learning how to source ingredients, attract customers, pay the bills and do the paperwork.
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Aaron said running the pub is a lot harder than he thought it would be.
"But it is very exciting and fulfilling," he beamed. "I am really enjoying it.
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"I'm quite a laid back person and I love it."
Born in West London, life in the countryside is quite different to what Aaron and his family are used to, but he said they are settling in well.
Aaron signed up to the Fifteen Foundation, a charity established by Jamie to help disadvantaged people, after leaving school aged 15 and without any qualifications
"The people at the Fifteen Foundation are fantastic," said Aaron, who is dyslexic.
"I'm okay at counting the pounds. The advice they give me is academic, especially managing overheads and doing the books."
Aaron doesn't see his condition as a barrier to getting on in the world.
He said: "We have more passion and drive inside us. It gives me an added ability to strive harder to achieve.
"Look at Jamie and Noel Gallagher [who both live locally]. They've both made a success of themselves. You have to believe in yourself."
Without the help he has been given, Aaron said things would have been a thousand times harder.
"There's so much to take on board, things like health and safety. It's a minefield," he said. "We have to be on the ball all of the time."
Although people know the pub is connected with Jamie and holds the same high standards of dining, Aaron is keen to point out The Cock is still an honest country pub.
"There are some good lads in the kitchen and we source much of our food locally," he explained. "People shouldn't be put off thinking we're expensive, either.
"We do cod and chips for around £8 and our most expensive dish is £15."
Linda Bray lives in Blackmore End and has eaten at The Cock.
She said: "It's great to have something like this on our doorstep. It's three minutes down the road and our meal cost less than the journey into London.