Disability is ‘last taboo’ in kitchens — I want to break it down, says Great British Menu chef
Ronnie Murray, group head chef for Mark Hix, told the Standard: “I’d love to see more disabled access in kitchens. There’s no reason if you’re in a wheelchair you can’t get behind the stove.”
A chef in this year’s Great British Menu competition wants to encourage more people with disabilities to take up careers in the catering industry.
Ronnie Murray was group head chef for Mark Hix before launching his own venture and is competing in the South-East region of the BBC contest.
The Peckham-based cook was born with a shortened arm but said he has not let it hinder his career.
Murray, 37, told the Standard: “There’s a streak in me that when somebody says I can’t do something, I’m going to do it to prove people wrong.
“Because I was born with it I don’t really see myself as having a disability — you just have to get on with it.”
Fellow cook Michael Caines lost an arm in a car accident but has since gone on to win his second Michelin star.
Murray said: “Hopefully people look at the influence of people like me and Michael and see you can get on and do it.
“It’s kind of the last taboo. The race thing’s been done, the gender thing’s been done, but you see someone with a disability and you’re not sure what to say.”
Murray, who runs supper club Peckham Manor from his south London home, appears on GBM from October 3 alongside Marcus Wareing’s head chef Mark Froydenlund and Hertfordshire’s Russell Bateman.
He said that most professional kitchens were not equipped for wheelchairs: “I’d love to see more disabled access in kitchens. There’s no reason if you’re in a wheelchair you can’t get behind the stove. I know some fantastic chefs in wheelchairs.”
He said people with disabilities would be “an amazing untapped resource” for the industry, and that awareness is key: “Publicity is important. People like myself and Michael, anybody who has got disabilities, shout about it and raise the awareness.”