Favourite Things: Why city life helps chef finder Tony get results

Tony Papa, director of Chef Results, stands outside one of his favourite places, The Fat Cat, Alma Street. Picture: Andrew Roe
Tony Papa, director of Chef Results, stands outside one of his favourite places, The Fat Cat, Alma Street. Picture: Andrew Roe

From Bono to Richard Branson via Princess Anne - Tony Papa has wowed the palates of a string of renowned ‘A’ listers in his former life as a full-time chef. But things could have been very different. As a rookie chef he only intended to go to London for a week; he actually ended up staying for 10 years and found success working in the kitchens of some of the capital’s most renowned hotels. Though he hasn’t been a full-time chef since the early 2000s, he has probably worked in more kitchens in recent years than ever before. That’s because the chef recruitment agency he launched seven years ago with Amanda Bell is built on the adage, ‘Once a chef, always a chef’. He said: “Prospective clients are somewhat shocked when I ask to come to work in their kitchen for an afternoon but it really is the only way to gain a feel for how a place operates and the kind of staff they need. The more we can keep up to date with trends, the better.” Neepsend-based Chef Results places chefs in the Sheffield area and all over the UK. The company is based in Globe Business Centre. Born in Mirfield, growing up in Doncaster and now living and working in Sheffield, Tony Papa has an Italian father and a British mother. He lives in Dore and has three children.

Hills of Sheffield

I made the decision to leave London as I was tired of the hustle and bustle of life down there but it still took me a while to re-adjust to life in Sheffield. The hills were definitely one of the things that won me over. They’re perfect for cycling and running and the perfect way to escape.

Neepsend

Despite us increasing in size three times I’m glad to say Globe Business Centre has always managed to accommodate Chef Results. There’s great transport links in this area which make it easy for chefs visiting us. But the best thing for me are the real ale pubs in the vicinity like the Fat Cat. I’m very much a regular. The area also boasts loads of good sandwich shops and a great chip shop nearby. There’s also so much stunning Victorian industrial history on your doorstep. Who could ask for more?

Independent restaurants

As catering is such a key part of my life I always keep a close eye on the restaurant sector in Sheffield. We’ve got one of the highest profile ones - the Milestone - yards from our office. Though there are some great independent restaurants in the city, I personally believe there are too many ‘chain’ restaurants. I think there should be more done to encourage independent restaurants to open and develop in Sheffield.

The Blues

I’m blue through and through but I’m afraid it’s more Chelsea than Sheffield Wednesday – although good to see a few young lads from Chelsea being sent to the Owls at the moment for experience. I wasn’t always Chelsea – I got hooked following my decade living in London.

Bozmans FC

Our five-a-side team has now been playing together for over 10 years. It’s the perfect way to keep in shape for anyone working in the restaurant trade! I’d say we’re the strongest team as we hold everyone else up. It’s not quite as good as it sounds. It just means we normally propping up the wrong end of the league table! We play at Goals on Norfolk Park Road.

Rafters, Oakbrook Road

Being picky about restaurants goes with the territory when you’re a former chef. I’ve always been a fan of Rafters and have been there on many occasions. It offers fine food at super value prices. The service is always attentive and Rafters boast enviable surroundings. Sheffield definitely needs more independent restaurants of this standard.

Burbage Moor

and Bradfield

You don’t need to be many miles outside Sheffield city centre to find some stunning scenery. That’s definitely one thing that won me over about the city. Two of my favourite areas are definitely Burbage Moor and the Bradfield area. There are no better places in the world for a walk, a run and true tranquillity.

Sheffield Tigers RUFC

My two sons play here and I follow the team closely. It’s a friendly club with a fabulous history. But watching the team in the winter months is definitely not for the fainthearted. The Dore Moor ground is a bleak place when the wind is blowing and many have been beaten by the elements alone! The area has definitely got its own microclimate.

Boxing at St Vincent’s

Having a career based on food can easily be a double-edged sword - hence I do my utmost to keep fit. There’s no better fitness training than boxing. I attend the renowned St Vincent’s for a sparring session now again.