What was your first job?
At 14, I worked a summer in a nursery (a plant one, not a kids one), so 6 weeks of the roasting hot school holidays, separating baby plants into small plant pots in a giant greenhouse, perfect for a freckly, ginger kid...
What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
Peanut butter and Marmite on toast, tastes just like dry roasted peanuts.
What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
Kenny Atkinson, House of Tides, it’s worth the five-hour drive from London.
What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
There are so many of them, all for different reasons, but settling on one it would have to be Thomas Keller, beautiful food, a total understanding of produce and always appears in complete control.
If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I really wanted to be a paramedic, but then I realised I hate needles. Maybe it would have fixed the fear….
What is your biggest regret?
Not getting into kitchens earlier, I only started cooking at 23.
Pet hate in the kitchen?
Pots of spoons with dirty water in them. And people being late for work. and being late for work.
What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
"Steak Tartare Medium Rare, please."
What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Beef Wellington, who wouldn’t want to be the chef who came up with such a classic.
Describe your cooking style in three words
Rustic. Refined. Honest.
Most overrated food?
Molecular gastronomy. I just don’t get it. Sorry to all the chefs who have dedicated their careers to it. Maybe I’m not clever enough.
Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Kids running riot around the restaurant, expecting the waiting staff to be creche supervisors. At least make some attempt to control your little ones.
What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
“The worst place in the world” from somebody who hadn’t even eaten the food, made my day…
If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Anthony Bourdain, so I could have had a beer with the guy afterwards.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Find the chef who you want to be “when you grow up” and hound them until they give you a trial or a job. Perseverance is everything.
Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My chef’s knife. The rest we can work around.
What do you cook at home on your days off?
I tend to try and eat out as much as possible, see what’s happening out in the world.
What’s your earliest food memory?
The smell of baking in my grandma's kitchen.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Breathe. Just when you are about to lose it, get anxious or feel like it’s all getting too much, just stop, breathe, reset, then go again, clear your head.
What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I crashed my car through a wall when I lived in Devon, luckily hit the wall backwards after spinning a few times, wrote the car off but walked away with just a cut forehead and a headache.
Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Snowboarding, anywhere there is snow.
Tipple of choice?
What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
A tasting menu cooked by Thomas Keller.