Flash-grilled: Richard Allen

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Richard Allen The Orangery Rockliffe Hall

Related tags: Chefs, Hotel, Fine dining

The executive head chef of The Orangery at Rockliffe Hall in County Durham on his love of fishing and his mother's cooking and his admiration of Northcote's Nigel Howarth.

What was your first job?
I was a KP in a 4 star hotel on Bournemouth seafront.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?  
I do love a good burger.

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
I’ve had some remarkable meals in my time but one that does stand out was at the Forest Side in Cumbria when Mark Birchall was doing a dinner there. 

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
Nigel Howarth at Northcote for what he’s done with Obsession.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do? 
A fishing consultant, it’s my favourite pastime.

What is your biggest regret?
I wish I had spent more time with my family.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
People who cut corners it really irritates me.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
I am a vegetarian but I eat chicken.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
The egg and soldiers dish by Martin Blunos.

Describe your cooking style in three words
Tasty, thoughtful, fun.

Most overrated food?
Sushi.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Plastic.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
My food was described as "too masculine" to eat. 

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
It would have to be the late great Anthony Bourdain. I'd have loved to talk to him about his early years on the line in the kitchen.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Get into the best restaurant you can straight away and don’t look back.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A sharp knife.

What do you cook at home on your days off?
Anything that is doable in one pot, my wife and I always argue who’s going to dry up.

What’s your earliest food memory? 
Picking blackberries with my mum for a pie.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Clean is the very beginning.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I once nearly drowned at Sandbank’s (in Dorset) with my sister when we were caught in the tide.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
I don’t really ever go out; there is no better place for me than a lake to spend my time fishing.

Tipple of choice?
A spicy bloody mary.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Something cooked my mother, the best cook in the universe.

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