I recently had an interview to be included in a upcoming publication regarding my new appointment. Some of the answers sound a little contrived mind and I didnt swear once(Why do people do this? we feel obliged to feed people a censored version of the truth in order to please them)I still think I sound like a pretentious wanker. I'm not tho, promise.
What’s your favourite thing about being Head Chef at ……….?
For me it’s the freedom I’ve been allowed with the menu and the opportunity to work with the company in a new and exciting direction.
How would you describe your culinary style?
My culinary style is predominantly Anglo-French, but not exclusively.
What is your signature dish?
Thats a tough question as they change regularly but the dish that sticks out most from the last few years is a rolled and suffed pork belly dish, i served it with pearl barley risotto, Jerusalem artichoke puree, purple sprouting broccoli and cavados Jus. It was particularly popular and i enjoyed cooking it. Either that or I do a mean beef and trotter pie!
Where did your passion for food come from? How did you know that you wanted to be a chef?
My passion for food and desire to become the best chef i could started early, i remember getting a job as a kitchen porter when i was about 13 at a restaurant not to far from here, my brother was the G.M at the time so he got me in to help out in the kitchen on the weekends. On top of the standard pot washing duties they used to give me all the horrible jobs like splitting oysters, de-bearding muscles, gutting mackerel etc... As horrible as those jobs sound, they were the first prep jobs i experienced and i remember enjoying the hands on approach and satisfaction from 'getting the knack' for something and being able to do it easily and at speed. Over a decade on i still hold that mindset; i love what a visceral experience cooking is. For me Its all about getting your hands dirty, poking, prodding, smelling, tasting and of course the vibrant aesthetics of good fresh produce. I spend 90% of my waking life thinking about recipes, whats currently in season, and how i can better myself by creating unique tastes and textures. A passion for food is a bug that once you've got you cant shake off, you're always on the look out for something new.
How would you best describe your ethics around food?
I'm passionate about sourcing locally grown and reared produce. since starting at lighthouse i have changed the Meat and Veg suppliers to better utilise the amazing produce we have on our doorstep. i use fairtrade and freerange-organic produce where possible and plan dishes around what’s in season and what’s local throughout the year
Out of the kitchen, what’s your favourite comfort food?
I tend to eat quite extravagantly out of work. This is down to my home kitchen doubling as my lab. Its here that I perfect old recipes and experiment with new ones. I'm also lucky enough to have two very willing gunea pigs in the form of my Girlfriend and (probably Dorset's most spoilt) dog. One half of that duo gives me very honest feed back whilst the other is happy regardless! If i had to pick a comfort dish it would be either my zesty salmon and petit pois risotto which i tend to cook weekly or my girlfriends curried chicken and broccoli bake which unfortunately appears less often.
Out of the kitchen, what hobbies do you have?
I'm a very keen guitar player and music lover. I spend hours scouring second hand book shops on the hunt for vintage cook books. I enjoy eating out, seaside walks with my good lady and the hound and have a secret love for Alfa Romeo's and motorsport which I inherited from my father.
What chefs inspire you?
I hold an awful lot of respect for Louis Diat, Gordon Ramsay, Fergus Henderson and Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall.
What famous people have you cooked for?
Orlando Bloom, Bill Nighy, Sharon Stone, Jeremy Paxman, Bob Geldof, Ben Fogle, Jay Kay, Harry Enfield, John Lord, Alan Davis to name a few.
What is your favourite restaurant?
My favourite restaurant is the Crazy Bear in Stadhampton, Oxfordshire. It is an amazingly kooky looking place with the most incredible food.
What is your favourite thing about ……….?
Its a new adventure, it couldn't be more different from my background but thats was what drew me to the job in the first place. I've been given a real opportinnity to inject my personality into a very important part of the ……….. operation.
If you could cook for one person who would it be?
Thats a tough one, to be honest I'm not sure who id cook for but i'd love to cook up against Gordon on the F word. I'd give him a good run for his money
Finally, what plans do you have for the Café 2010?
To continue moving the cafe food in an interesting direction, receive positive reviews in local and national press, have the most profitable year to date and have the most satisfied customers in the area. It’s going to be a busy year!