Describing himself as “a complete tearaway”, Daniel Clifford’s dad had never seen a school report from him before his work experience in the kitchens at Canterbury University in his home county of Kent. When he returned after two weeks with every box of excellence ticked and sporting a job offer, his dad called the school to tell them his son had to leave early – “he’s found what he wants to do”.
A three-year apprenticeship at Howfield Manor Hotel in Canterbury followed, with college day release. In 1992 he went to work as commis chef at The Bell Inn in Buckinghamshire, under David Cavalier – the chef that he credits with having the most profound influence on his career. He told The Caterer: “I looked up to him like God … He was totally focused – nothing could be compromised.” A demi chef de partie position followed at the Box Tree in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, then a spell as chef de partie at Millers in Harrogate, North Yorkshire and a sous chef position at Provence restaurant in Lymington, Hampshire.