What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?
My nanna’s mash potatoes (direct from my pop’s garden of course) and meatballs. Corndogs, fairy floss and slush puppies at the country fair.Growing up in a small country town the annual fair is something we used to always look forward to. To this day I’m still fascinated by the idea of a deep fried hotdog on a stick! Although I can’t remember the last time I had some fairy floss. Must remedy that.
What would you say has inspired your cooking the most?
I think like all chefs it comes down to the produce,nothing tastes quite right when you try and force a dish to work. It has to be lead by the ingredients.Then the dish as a whole is brought together depending on each persons experiences, whether that be travel, heritage or the restaurants they’ve worked at. For me personally I’d say travel and eatingouthave the strongest influence.
Describe how you see your own culinary style and how it has evolved over the years…
Keep It Simple. What you leave out is often more important then what you put on the plate. My style has definitely evolved in line with the places I’ve been involved in. I basically enjoy cooking everything, so whether it was crushing avocados at the first Elliot’s, making bacon sandwiches and eggs benedict at the Pavilion, grilling a steak at Elliot’s or shucking oysters at the Richmond,I’m always thinking how can I do this better.
Tell us a bit about the concept of your new restaurant The Richmond…
At it’s heart it’s a neighbourhood restaurant with a focus on oysters and seafood. We try to maintain a modesty and familiarity that makes people feel welcome,but still strive to serve the best wines, cocktails and food we can.
What food trends are exciting you at the moment?
Back to basics, less ingredients on the plate but more focus on getting the most out of them.I’m also interested incooking over natural fuelslikewood charcoal etc…andalso the general increase in the quality of food at all price points.
What are your most indispensable ingredients?
New season olive oil, saltanda great team of chefs is indispensable.You can’t do it all alone!
What kind of experience do you aim to give guests when you cook for them?
First and foremost I hope that they find it delicious. I think with every meal people mostly remember if it was something truly tasty.
What would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinary career so far?
I opened my first café on a whim in 2007. I gutted theoldplace,painted,decorated,cleaned and put the whole thing together all by myself. It felt great to be able to call a place my own, no matter how modest it was. All my friends used to come and help out,it had such a great energy to it. Sadly it is no more but after going through that year I can put everything else into much better perspective.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self, starting out a career in the world of food?
Start slower, take the time to cook and learn from more restaurants, learning different styles. Forget about wanting to be a head chef, or open your own place, or have a cookbook. All that stuff can come once you’ve mastered your craft. I also wish we had more emphasise on learning how to train others. Restaurants are not one man shows. One of the strengths of a top chef is being able to lead and traintheirteam to produce quality food in a restaurant environment. It takes many hands.
If you could take a plan ride to any restaurantin the world, just for one meal, where would you go?
As clichéd as it sounds I would go back to Noma in a heartbeat. I cannot describe how amazing I find that place. The way they think about food and push the level of cookingis something I’ve never seen before and not seen since.
316 Queensbridge Rd
020 7241 1638