Simon Macbeth Roundhay, All Change, Chapter 13: Part 3 of 5

Simon Macbeth Roundhay had lied at the interview, telling them I had two or three-years experience working in kitchens. The manager fell for that. I can be quite convincing, manipulative, and deceitful when I choose to be. Amazingly, I lasted at Joseph’s Well Tavern for three months before I got sacked. Even more astonishingly, I didn’t get sacked because I couldn’t cook; I got sacked because I took a week off without permission.  It may have been the bright new dawn of a career, but old habits and all that.

For the next year or so I worked in different eating establishments across Leeds, getting sacked when the owners and managers realised that I couldn’t do the job. Each time I moved on I began to learn the trade, picking up jobs here and there, and getting a little bit better each time.


Becoming a chef wasn’t the only thing that altered my life at that time. When I’d been working in Joseph’s Well Tavern, a familiar face changed my outlook on life for good. I’d met Rubens Cole when I was working at Butlin’s in Skegness a few years earlier. At the end of the season I’d been sacked for not turning up regularly enough. I’d kept in touch with Rubens for a while, until good intentions faded and the communications died down.

I was standing behind the bar one day trying to escape the confines of the kitchen for a few moments, when I looked up to see Rubens. He lived near the pub and told me he drank in there regularly. This coincidental reunion reignited our friendship for a while and the one thing I noticed about him was that he was always coming out with long words, most of which I didn’t understand. When I was talking to him he said, “You know what Simon, one day I was thinking and I realised that I was as thick as fuck. I didn’t know fuck at all about anything, so I decided to do something about it. I’d never read a book in my life so I started reading. I read books on anything that interested me. It’s been a few years now, and I am not as thick as fuck anymore.  I know a few things now.”

Admittedly it wasn’t the most eloquent revelation ever made, but that conversation made me think about my own lack of education, intelligence, and knowledge. Here was Rubens who was just like me. He’d improved himself and was doing a course at Leeds University, whereas I was still “thick as fuck.”


I didn’t know much. I could hardly read. I could hardly write or spell and I knew next to nothing about what was happening in the world around me.  I was 22 years old at this point and in that encounter Rubens changed me, although I didn’t do anything about it immediately.  The realisation that I could be more than I was only manifested itself through action about four years later. I started reading books then in the hope that I could improve myself too.

In a couple of minutes Rubens Cole had permanently extended my horizons.

I may have had a number of short-lived jobs in my first year as a chef, but I knew I had improved a lot. I knew as much if not more about running a kitchen than people who had been to college or those who had been working in one place for a couple of years. They’d not got the range of experience that I had. They’d been working in the same place and not been learning new things. I’d done a little bit here and there, picking up tips and knowledge along the way. I had experience of managing a kitchen from my stint at Joseph’s Well.  No one else I came across knew how to do that really, certainly not the chefs I met who were on the bottom rung of the ladder with me.

After a while, I’d got to the stage where I had nearly exhausted the places in Leeds where I could move to after being sacked. I managed to get a job with a recruitment agency and they sent me all over the place. I was doing two days here, three days there, which was a superb opportunity to really learn the ropes. I was going into kitchens, learning new things, and constantly improving my own ability to do the job.


Towards the end of 1998 I was getting £6 an hour, which was fantastic money for me compared to the £3.50 I’d earned a couple of years earlier as a barman. I got a three-months long assignment from the agency working at Leeds General Infirmary in their canteen. After a few days there, I got talking to the catering manager and he mentioned how much he was paying the agency to have me there. It was almost double the amount I was getting. We were talking somewhere in the region of £11.50 an hour and I just thought, “Fuck, no one has ever paid that much for me to be anywhere before.” It was more realistic to think people might pay that amount of money NOT to have me there. From that conversation I decided that I was going to become a freelance chef.

You can read chapter 12 here: 

Learn More About Simon Macbeth Leeds

You can find out more about Simon Macbeths life, from being a child and growing up in Leeds, to where he is now. A successful, award winningbusiness owner and web designer that owns high ranking websites. He is active on Google+  and Facebook where he creates interesting content.

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