“In my earlier kitchen journey, the chefs didn’t recognise my abilities, they saw my deafness as a problem. I just feel they didn’t trust me or thought I didn’t know what I was doing, which I find insulting.”
But now Scott Garthwaite – aka Punk Chef – has the last laugh. Hes since worked in some of Britain’s top restaurants – including Oakham’s famous Michelin-starred Hambleton Hall – and achieved fame as a sign language TV presenter of cookery programmes.
And he’s just set up his first Punk Chef food truck at London’s famous Spitalfields Market employing 3 deaf staff.
Hartlepool-born Scott grew up in a humble working-class family but one with a love of cookery: “My grandfather was a Navy chef and loved making homemade wine and beers for the family on special occasions, my Nana was always baking something at home.”
“But it wasn’t until I spent eight months volunteering at a deaf school in Jordan, that I thought seriously about becoming a chef. I’d fallen in love with Middle East food and the culture around it, the passion that ordinary people everywhere had for preparing food, cooking and eating it.”
Back home, Scott graduated in Newcastle with a degree in Culinary and Patisserie Art. He began his training at Darlington’s Rockcliffe Hall. “I’ve always loved working in kitchens. The hours may be long, it’s very hard work. At times the communication barriers make it difficult to get to know hearing colleagues at a deeper level, so it can be very lonely in a hearing- dominated kitchen. But I love food so much. I never let my deafness become a barrier. It just makes me all the more determined to prove myself.”