After initially working as a part-time kitchen porter, the sudden departure of a commis chef saw Yates thrust into the role. After just one week, he knew the world of fire and knives was for him.
He then went to catering college to supplement what he had already learnt on the job. Bemused by his peers’ lack of passion for the subject, the Birmingham-raised chef took off for London to work at the prestigious Connaught under Executive Chef Angela Hartnett and Head Chef Neil Ferguson (“one of the best I have ever worked for, an absolutely incredible chef”).
Eighteen and away from home for the first time, Yates was forced to adapt quickly to the pressures of London. Yet, it was his next job, at Daniel Clifford’s two Michelin Starred Midsummer House, Cambridge, that truly shaped the young chef.
“Working at Midsummer was a real eye-opener, I quickly went from being a boy to a man,” he says.
Graduating from the school of Midsummer House with honours (Mark Poynton, Matt Gillan and Tim Allen are other notable alumni), Yates has ended up at Yorkshire’s historic Box Tree restaurant via spells at Alimentum and The Vineyard at Stockcross.
Classically trained but contemporary in his outlook, using modern technology only to complement age-old techniques, Yates’ culinary philosophy is very much in line with Box Tree’s Chef Proprietor, Simon Gueller, and the pair combine to thrilling effect.
With Gueller now providing a more consultative role, Yates is in charge of the day-to-day running of the kitchen, which he does with calmness and responsibility, and has played a big part in the restaurant's continued progress - capped by the retaining of its Michelin star.