What’s your earliest memory of being interested in food?
My mom was a great baker of cake, she would make not only enough for her family of five children but for the whole street and that was something I grew up with. It wasn’t until I got a job in a local Cantonese restaurant that my eyes were opened, I went from meat and two veg to lobster, wok-fried whilst it was still moving!
You have a book entitled Recipes of the Sea. What lesson in food do you hope readers will take from it?
The book was never about showing off and sharing difficult and time consuming recipes. It was totally about making cooking fish easy with easy to follow recipes, great uncomplicated pictures that make the readers just want to go down to the harbour, buy some fish and get cooking, with all the fish and ingredients in the book being available locally .
Can you describe — in a few words — what your defining food philosophy is?
I am driven to create great food for all our guests whether it’s the perfect omelette for breakfast or a delicately cooked halibut for dinner. Everything is created in house from croissants, stocks, jams and ice creams. I have total control and responsibility so I choose my ingredients carefully, seasonally and cook respectfully.
Who has been the biggest inspiration for your cooking?
I suppose it hasn’t been anyone! When you have worked in a kitchen as long as I have those early influences have long gone. Yes it’s good to get off the island to France and London , but these days my influences come from my environment and the people in it. We have an unbelievable kitchen garden, woodlands and a fantastic coastline with some amazing people.
Longueville Manor has its own kitchen garden. What ingredient do you enjoy the most?
Tough one as it’s always changing. I used to love watching asparagus pop up and grow over night, but picking and eating sun-ripened raspberries is hard to beat.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Getting the seal of approval from Michel Roux Senior – when he agreed to write the foreword to my book it was a very proud moment.
If you could take a plane ride to anywhere in the world, just for one meal, where would you go and why?
Probably back to South Africa where I got married to my wife Eilish — the food was amazing with great ingredients and great cultural influences. I had Kudu [antelope] and it was so good I never ate it again so as not to spoil the memory.