Ian Sherlock is a tried and tested world-class chef. Yet he began things by leaping off the top of a building and landing in a truck full of pillows – at least, that’s what it amounted to career wise! He left school young and driven by the burning desire to cook. He’s from the north of England with no airs or graces.
But after four years of struggling to get nowhere, he grabbed the bull by the horns, climbed on a plane and headed for Hong Kong. He’d already decided there were five hotels he wanted to work for, all of them 5-star. He applied, they refused. He applied again, they refused again. All in all, he notched up more than 60 refusals. In the meanwhile, to make ends meet, he flipped burgers on the street and just kept on applying.
Finally, a ‘yes’ and Ian, glowing with enthusiasm and cram-full of creative verve, set off in his best outfit (bright green trousers, bright red T-shirt, crepe-soled shoes) and a freshly oiled Elvis haircut. He also took his ‘resume’ – a giant scrapbook bursting with culinary notes, ideas, newspaper clippings, photos, plus his sketches and drawings (he’s a skillful artist, too). And the executive staff at the 5-star Island Shangri-La Hotel was so impressed they took him on trial. He stayed there working for two years.
Thirty years on, and he’s now run and managed kitchens for all the household names: Shangri-La, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott, Inter-Continental, Royal Meridien, Royal Mirage, Nusa Dua Beach - Dorchester Collection, (to name but a few) in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Bali, Dubai, Bahrain, Morocco, The Caribbean, Germany and England.
He’ has spearheaded international culinary events or personally catered for dignitaries and influential people like Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, George Bush Senior, King Hussein of Jordon, Yasser Arafat, Prince Andrew Duke of York of England, the Royal Family of Bahrain, Shinz Abe (President of Japan), Benigno Aquino III, (President of Philippines), Tony Tan (President of Singapore), Pervez Musharraf (former President of Pakistan), Dr. Kenny Anthony (Prime Minister of Saint Lucia), Ibrahim Bare Mainassara (former President of Niger), Bhumibol Adulyadej (King of Thailand) Maha Vajiralongkorn (Crown Prince of Thailand) and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Prime Minister of Dubai), to mention more than a few!
In spite of all of this, he just cannot seem to become any cooler, smoother or more chic than he has ever been. He is a people-person right from the heart and is just as easy chatting with international celebs and royalty as he is with native musicians or village elders in their huts. Having long since mastered the sophisticated nuances of gourmet cooking, his inherent curiosity has driven him further afield. He has taken time out to travel throughout Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, sleeping rough and living with the locals, discovering ethnic secrets and techniques of cooking close to the earth and collecting recipes featuring rare and fantastical vegetables, herbs and spices.