Graham ‘poaches’ chef to expand his oven cleaning business

Graham Barnard made sure to gain the approval of his better half before taking on a subcontractor to expand his oven cleaning business, Ovenu Brentwood.

For at the time applicant Tobias Titchner was working as a chef for Graham’s wife Gemma at The Artichoke Toby Carvery, where she is general manager.


“Fortunately, poaching one of her employees didn’t cause any family ructions,” he joked. “I’d had a conversation with Tobias around Christmas, and he mentioned he was looking for a change of career, and I needed someone of his calibre to help grow my business.


“However, I did make sure I got Gemma’s approval first!


“Tobias is a dab hand in the kitchen and certainly knows his way around an oven and, as a chef, appreciates the importance of keeping an oven spotless, as well as delivering great customer service.”


Since setting up Ovenu Brentwood in September 2019 after taking redundancy from his previous job as an operations manager for BT Openreach, Graham has seen demand grow, despite the pandemic.


“In the last few months, I found myself having to turn bookings down because there just weren’t enough hours in the day. Now, with Tobias on board, I can meet that extra demand and expand the business.


“I’ve always been busy but as lockdown restrictions have eased, the number of enquiries has grown in line with the roll out of vaccinations.”

Tobias, who is from Brentwood, and started out as a waiter at The Artichoke, said: “I’m relishing this new challenge and I’m pleased to say that, despite the career change, ovens will remain a constant in my life!


Rik Hellewell, founder and managing director of the Ovenu franchise, said: “It’s fantastic to see Graham growing his business despite the challenges of the past year – I only hope his wife has forgiven him for pinching one of her chefs!”


Ovenu Brentwood continues to accept bookings at its discretion, with the strict stipulation that both parties observe the two-metre social distancing rule, along with guidelines on hygiene and cleanliness.

The valeting process involves dismantling key components of an oven such as the door, interior panels, fan, and shelves and placing them into design-registered tank equipment, which uses safe, non-caustic products to clean the oven parts.


For further information contact Graham Barnard on 01277 562177, email brentwood@ or visit

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