Andrew Jones was a pupil at Norwich School between 1990 and 1999. In the past year he has opened his first restaurant in Norwich called 'Farmyard'. Read all about his memories of Norwich School and his motivations for opening a restaurant in Norwich below.
What are you doing now?
Opening Farmyard Restaurant at 23 St. Benedict's Street, which is a modern Bistro style restaurant employing top quality cooking techniques, in an understated way, using the very best produce from some of Norfolk's most passionate producers.
What are your greatest challenges/achievements?
Aside from having two young children? Managing to get financial backing for the project despite it being my first step as a restaurateur and securing, what I consider to be, one of the best sites in the city.
What is your motivation?
Firstly, I love working with great produce, as a chef it is a privilege to be able to handle great ingredients. In Norfolk we are lucky to be surrounded by top quality meat, game, fish and vegetables. There is also a growing band of artisans producing fantastic bread, cheese and charcuterie, even chocolate. The core of the concept at Farmyard is to find the very best produce we can and serve it to our guests.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself when starting out?
Keep pushing! It’s a tough industry to get started in, especially if you want to work in good kitchens and learn from the best. It can be pretty demoralising when you are learning your trade and you are constantly told you're useless which top chefs are renowned for doing. Sometimes it’s a physical and mental battle to keep going. But as you progress and become more useful to your employer and earn the respect of your fellow chefs, there is a tremendous feeling of achievement.
100 words on how you got to where you are today?
As a young chef I had drive and passion but it was only when I met my Fiancé, Hannah Springham, who went to Norwich High School, that I was able to focus that into achieving my goal of opening a restaurant. Hannah is a successful TV producer, as well as a great Mother and has been instrumental in the conception and launch of the restaurant. She taught me to keep talking about my idea, to anyone and everyone. The more you talk about it, the more the idea crystallises and the more people start to listen. Its stops becoming an idea and starts to become a reality.
When did you realise your passion for food?
I've always cooked and enjoyed cooking but it was in my final year at Nottingham University I suddenly realised I could earn a living doing something I really enjoyed.
Do you have a secret recipe that you would like to share?
Perfect mash. Cut the potatoes in half lengthways to help release their starch. Salt the cooking water well, don’t boil the potatoes, simmer them, when they are tender all the way through but not breaking drain them properly, return them to the pot and steam off all the excess cooking water. Mash them straight away over a low heat with butter, then gently fold in warmed milk infused with black pepper and nutmeg. Serve immediately.
Favourite memory of your time at Norwich School?
Playing cricket at the lower close, or assembly in the Cathedral. At the time I had no idea how lucky we were and took the incredible surroundings for granted.
How do you think Norwich School helped you to get to where you are now?
It gave me confidence in my own abilities and the tools to achieve my goals.
What was your favourite Norwich School dinner?
Sausage plait, what else?
What are your memories of the Norwich School refectory?
Queuing, soggy chips, and the smell of overcooked veg. Also having breakfast, lunch and dinner there on Thursdays when I did Sea Scouts.
If you could get one thing on the school menu what would it be?
A bavette steak, cooked over charcoal, served medium-rare with a really good béarnaise.