A TAUNTON sous chef has on his Twitter main page this quote: “Cooking is the only way in life! Sweet like Tropicana.”

The slicer and dicer from the kitchen at Augustus at 48, St James Street, Taunton, is Jamie Brereton whose love is his family and his passion is cooking.

This is The West Country:

Jamie who is Taunton born and bred, started out on the road to becoming a chef when he was 15-years-old and began as a pot washer at the former Farmers Arms in Combe Florey.

It was while doing this mundane task to earn pocket money, he saw what Steve, the chef was doing and wanted to learn more about what he needed to do to become a chef.

Jamie recalled being given the task of cutting hand cut potato wedges and he took such great care as he was scared of getting it wrong.

After this task, Steve said he could do veg and had a section all to himself where he did the vegetables and fried chops-simple thing to begin with and he did this for two years.

He then moved to The Old Inn in Bishops Hull for two and a half years before he took the plunge and spent three years at Somerset College of Arts and Technology where he did a catering course.

The course covered topics such as professional cooking and teaching you how to manage a section in a kitchen.

Jamie left college when he was 18 years old and began working at The Castle Hotel in Taunton.

Speaking about this sea change, Jamie said: “When I went to The Castle I was out of my depth.

“I thought fancy cooking was deep frying scampi and cooking frozen chips.

“I started working in the garnish section and I had never seen a kitchen like it. There were three kitchens. The main one for The Castle, the other for Brazz and a pastry section.

“There were times when I cried myself to sleep at night as it was tough. But I never gave up,I never stopped wanting to be a chef and within six months or a year I had found my feet.

“Not giving up was the most important lesson I could have learnt.

“If I had not made the move to The Castle when I did I would never have been at the level I am today.

“Having worked at The Castle was the making of me -100 per cent as a chef.

This is The West Country:

And today, Jamie, 29, is the sous chef at Augustus where he works with and under the guidance of head chef, Richard Guest.

Talking about what cooking means to him, Jamie said: “When I am in the kitchen I am in my comfort zone.

“It is a place where I feel happy and to be honest cooking is the only thing I have ever wanted to do.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I did not do cooking.

“Cooking is where I am at my most chilled. I don’t shout, I am mellow about things and cooking makes me happy.,

“For me cooking is about me being myself, it is working as part of a team to produce quality for the customer.

“In cooking, the clock is your best friend and your worst enemy.

“I am a true believer if you have three main ingredients of onions, garlic and herbs you can make anything taste great.

“You can make home made faggots for example.

“Many people look in the fridge and might think they have very little to eat but I see it as an opportunity to make something like an omelette if you have eggs and mushrooms.”

This seeing an opportunity is one of the key reasons why Jamie followed his dream to be a chef.

He said: “When I was youngster at college I just used to want to hang around with my mates.

“But becoming a chef gave me a lot of confidence and having confidence gives you faith in your own ability.

“You need to see the positive in what you do.

“Recently two gentlemen came into Augustus and asked for two rare steaks.

“After they finished them they told me those were two seriously rare steaks and for me having that compliment meant I went home happy.”

For any up and coming chef, Jamie said you need to learn from your mistakes.

Jamie felt when mistakes happen you should take on board what has happened and use them as a learning experience.

He said sometimes he felt it was better to learn how to sink before you can swim as it will make more of you as a person and you become stronger from the experience.

He added: “Being wrong is a learning curve and you have to be alright with being wrong.

“If I could change anything then I would not have gone to college.

“I would have gone into hospitality as you would learn quicker.

“If I was giving anyone advice it would be to pick a restaurant where you can learn fast. Being able to make your own sauces and stocks means you can be worth your weight in gold.

“Getting into hospitality is defiantly the way forward especially for young cooks starting out.”

Speaking to Jamie you soon realise he is a man comfortable with his work/life balance and this shows in the quality of his cooking.

To book a table at Augustus at 48, St James Street, Taunton, call 01823 324354.