My earliest food memory is eating wobbly baked egg custards straight from the dish, sprinkled with a generous pinch of ground nutmeg. My mother cooked it for me overnight on our Aga. I grew up on a farm, so with an abundance of eggs, it was a regular creamy treat. It’s still one of my favourites.
At the moment I am really keen on Scandinavian food. I love curing and pickling seasonal ingredients. I especially love using these techniques on my favourite fish, salmon. It’s so versatile. Even if I say so myself, I make a superb smoked salmon. I have a modest allotment (I am from the North-East, so it’s a must) which is possibly another reason I love to preserve produce.
It’s difficult to name just one, but the best restaurant I’ve been fortunate to experience is ‘ll Sole Di Ranco’ on the shore of Lake Maggiore in Italy. It was straight out of a James Bond movie, with a view to match and amazing food and service. It was truly worthy of its two Michelin stars.
My most memorable meal is also one of the simplest I’ve ever eaten. When I lived in Germany a good friend and fellow chef recommended a small restaurant in Hamburg Haven Stadt. On first impressions it looked a bit ramshackle, but undeterred I was confident in my friend’s recommendation. The food tasted sublime. I haven’t forgotten the slow cooked feather blade, bouillon potatoes, chive hollandaise and fresh horseradish and apple sauce.
My ideal dinner guest would be Fredy Girardet. His three-star restaurant in Crissier, Switzerland, has been called the greatest in the world by several of France’s chefs. I never had the opportunity to work with Fredy, but I did try several times. I would love to talk about food with him.
I am inspired by the The Practical Cookery Book, by Ronald Kinton and Victor Ceserani. It’s been around for over 40 years, I read a review which said, “it’s like a good wine, it gets better with age”. I admire this book because of the basic grounding it provided me with. Many Industry chefs today would benefit from having a copy. Three items I always keep in my fridge are a chunk of Salmon, eggs from my own chickens and a bag of Maltesers.