What was your first job?
It was a Youth Training Scheme job straight out of school, working at Burtons menswear in Birmingham City Centre.
What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
I have a few but if I had to give one it would be KFC.
What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
I’ve been fortunate to have many amazing restaurant meals and experiences but one that stands out was when I was working at Pierre Orsi in Lyon. The chefs arranged for me to have lunch at Restaurant Paul Bocuse. It’s an iconic restaurant and the courses kept coming and throughout I was sitting by the open fire where ducks were being roasted. The main course was roast duck, served from a carving trolley with vegetables and pommes purée. I’ve probably eaten better meals since but that was hard to beat for experience.
What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Simon Rogan for his attitude to food, his culinary skills and his farm to plate approach. His ability is not just limited to his kitchen and restaurant but in producing brilliant chefs. He’s a great ambassador for the industry and is very down to earth. His accolades certainly haven’t gone to his head.
If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I’d be playing golf all day.
What is your biggest regret?
If I could turn back the clock I would spend more time working abroad and learn another language.
Pet hate in the kitchen?
Chefs saying they’re tired. I’m tired every day but think it makes me work harder.
What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
We invariably get vegans asking for vanilla ice cream at the end of the meal and those on gluten free menus asking for more bread.
What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Describe your cooking style in three words
Honest, flavoursome, seasonal.
Most overrated food?
Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Rather than ban I’d like to introduce a discount day for the industry whereby chefs and waiters could dine at restaurants at cost price. Eating out gives you so much inspiration but many young restaurant professionals simply can’t afford to. We already run a discount scheme in Birmingham but I’d love to extend it further.
What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
It was in the early days of Simpsons when Jeremy Clarkson was covering for Giles Coren. He gave us a battering but we had a good response from it. It would be nice for him to come back and see what he thinks now.
If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Paul Weller, he’s been my hero from childhood and remains so today.
Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Spoons. You can’t taste anything without them.
What do you cook at home on your days off?
I cook at home every day and make sure we have a meal together as a family in the evening. I cook a range of dishes, like chillli con carne but it’s sometimes hard to please everyone.
What’s your earliest food memory?
Podding peas in my dad’s restaurant at the age of about six. I still love raw peas.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be honest because someone will always catch you out in the kitchen.
What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I had a nasty car crash when I spun the car on the M42 on the drive back from Simpsons at Kenilworth after a few long shifts. It was in the days before hands free but I remember being outside the car on the phone to my wife Diane and seeing blue lights flashing - she managed to keep me awake but it was a strange and frightening experience for us both.
Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
If I had hair it would be Pure Bar & Kitchen, I love their philosophy of brewing beer and their attention to detail.
Tipple of choice?
A pint of Purity Ubu.
What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Lobster cocktail for starter, steak and chips cooked on a Big Green Egg or BBQ and tarte tartin for dessert.