Christian Ponte – The Elephants Head in Lamberhurst


Christian Ponte

Since I moved out of home I have always had to deal with food, like everyone, however mine was not only because I was alone but also because I found it exciting and I wanted to do it out of desire.

From a young age I learnt how to bake bread with my Grandma and how to butcher cows and pigs with my Uncle on his farm. All of this has made me realise how passionate I am about natural and simple ingredients to create tasty meals.

Realising how joyful and full of life it made me feel to cook, I chose to follow the culinary life which I learnt more about through Hospitality Secondary School in Italy (which is where I lived at the time), where food is as important as following your religion. I qualified in Cividale del Friuli in Istituto Alberghiero after 5 years of a specialised course followed by various restaurant experience in the sector.

Apart from my hospitality passion I also love playing football in my own time as I used to play with a semi-professional team in Italy in second and third division, so that gave me the opportunity to travel the world, follow a healthy diet and to eat food from all around the globe. This has made me realise how ingredients from different places taste depending on the season, the freshness in flavour and source.

In 2010 I moved to England, the first two years I went to college in North London studying a NVQ LEVEL 3 in Catering and Hospitality City & Guilds. I had to learn English as I had never spoken it before using my comprehension of food to communicate and through the college I had the opportunity to work at The Olympia Exhibition centre on Masterchef along with Gregg Wallace and John Torode. I also received a few awards, but the best one was for being the most improved student of 2012 in Barnet Southgate College.

During that period I also worked for Harrods in external events such as the Formula One Silverstone, Chestertons Polo in the Park ‘The Grazing Paddock’, Grand Design ExCel sponsored by Anglian Home Improvements and so on.

Harrods then took me on for a job in Frescobaldi Restaurant; the ONLY Italian restaurant in the store. I started as a Commis Chef and then moved up levels to Chef de Partie all in one year, given the responsibility to take charge of the whole restaurant. During the time I spent in Harrods I got promoted to Junior Sous Chef and I have worked with different Michelin star chefs such as Michel Roux Jnr, Carlo Cracco, Bobo and Enrico Cerea, Davide Scabin, and the well-known Massimo Bottura. After this I managed to fit in some events which took place in India and Qatar that I enjoyed very much.

My life ambition is to always improve my knowledge and to do this I had to gain experience so I decided to work in different locations. I worked at Fortnum & Mason in “The Bar Champagne” inside the British Airways terminal as a Senior Sous Chef, successively I received an offer from The British Museum to take under my wing the Great Court Restaurant as a Head Chef which made me the second person in charge of the company Benugo at The British Museum.

Here I learnt how to manage 20 chefs and different departments of the company. I then had to move to Kent for family reasons so I decided that it was time for me to take it easy and put family first so I thought that a gastro pub would be a lot easier to manage and run, with all the knowledge and experience that I gathered through the years.

I have worked in The Vine Pub and Grill, but I am now going to start at the Elephants Head in Lamberhurst because there is a new opening and I would like to be part of the process of making it one of the best pubs in the area.