Food13th October 2013

An Interview with The Punk Chef - Scott Garthwaite

Scott Gathwaite, also known as the Punk Chef, presents his cookery shows in BSL. Here Sarah talks about his up-bringing and his culinary skills

by Sarah Lawrence

Passionate about cooking now, being a chef was not Scott Garthwaite’s first choice of career. Initially, Scott studied fashion and media at Derby College for the Deaf. Things changed when he took a gap year in the Middle East at the Holy Land for the Deaf ain Al Salt, in Jordan. Eight months into a wonderful experience, the war with Iraq started and Scott was advised to leave by the British Embassy for his own safety.


Having decided on cooking upon his return to the UK, and following his successful studies, Scott went to work in a Michelin starred Restaurant for 3 months, to get some work experience. “I loved it,” said Scott, “the details and perfection in cooking and presenting are awesome!” Whilst Scott’s path has taken him away from restaurants for the time being, it is something he wants to return to, to expand his knowledge and learn the secrets of the trade, and to offer some creative cooking ideas of his own.

Through his on-screen character, The Punk Chef, Scott in getting a great deal of enjoyment from his work with Remark! He holds Remark! in very high regard and is excited about some of the plans they have to promote good cooking amongst the deaf community. In traditional cookery programmes, Scott is concerned that some of the language used might involve too much jargon and out people off having a go. Along with Remark! Scott wants to do something about that and encourage deaf people to get involved.

“I am passionate about my food and I want to share that with my community”, Scott explains. “Food is beautiful, and to create a dish from scratch is very rewarding and makes you proud of what you have created. I want deaf people to feel the same.”

Through Remark!’s promotion, and the success of the  on-line programme, Scott’s work and talents are being viewed in countries across the globe. Reflecting on the viewer information, Scott is very pleased with progress and believes the programmes have a very good future.

Programmes involving The Punk Chef are tailored around deaf culture, and Scott is keen to appeal to his own community. “What the deaf community believe and are very passionate about, is seeing Deaf people present and do programmes on TV that they can relate to, and feel part of,” he says. “I want to share recipes along with some wicked, awesome cooking tips to my community as I feel the programme will benefit me, but also the viewers.”

Based on their understanding of deaf culture, The Punk Chef Programme provides many visual placements of ingredients and cooking techniques, which is easier for Deaf people to follow. They also have subtitled options as well as voice over, increasing accessibility to a wider audience.

Doing so well, it would be a mistake to think that it has always been easy for Scott. Like many Deaf people trying to work in a hearing environment, Scott faced an extremely difficult time when working at the Michelin starred kitchen. “Not because of my cooking ability, but because of my deafness, as I eel staff there didn't trust me or thought I didn't know what I was doing, which was really insulting”, Scott described.

Scott found the Head Chef supportive and helpful, but in a highly competitive environment where everyone wants to be seen in their best light, Scott was given some of the more mundane tasks to complete. “You have to be patient in a kitchen, listen and learn,” Scott advises. “As you work your way up in ranking then you can look down and laugh at them.”

In thinking about young deaf people today and in light of his own experience Scott says, “Whatever you dream or vision, don’t think it’s ‘impossible’ because you are deaf, it is time we stood up, pulled our sleeves up and remember it’s going to be a struggle. But, once you achieve, you look back and think, ‘YES I did it my way’!... you can do it... The ‘Punk’ believes in you!”

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Food

13th October 2013