Flash-grilled: Simon Hulstone

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Simon Hulstone is chef owner of The Elephant restaurant in Torquay

Related tags: Chef, Restaurant

Simon Hulstone is chef owner of The Elephant in Torquay, a Michelin starred restaurant overlooking the harbour. This year the restaurant is celebrating arts and culture through a series of lunches with creatives, starting with the theatre director Michael Grandage on 18 May.

What was your first job?
A forager for my father. I used to pick blackberries at 5p per punnet and nettles 10p per bag.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?  
Frosties with warm sterilised milk.

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
I think Benu tops the list but I have been lucky to dine in most of the worlds best restaurants.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
Jason Atherton is an inspiration for most chefs, he has a great portfolio of amazing restaurants and has no qualms about changing them if they aren’t working how he wants. I’ve never had a bad experience in any of his restaurants.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do? 
I think the army or military service would have suited me but more on the combat side rather than culinary. I like to think people would trust me to lead them.

What is your biggest regret?
I don’t have many regrets, most things have been for a reason and it’s usually been my own doing. It’s how you get up from the knock downs that matters.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Chewing gum, it’s just scummy.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
A guest told me once she had to change seats as my food had made her so wet!!! I gather she spilt her tap water.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
I love Claude Bosi’s Foie gras ice cream.

Describe your cooking style in three words
Better than mum’s.

Most overrated food?
There’s loads, I particularly hate sea urchin.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Red corduroys, lemon jumpers and slip-on shoes.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
When I was at school my teacher said I should never ever sing again.

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
I‘m a full on royalist so it would be the royal family. Would be good to have a table with Harry and a few ciders after.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Wear your best pants on day one in the changing room.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Clingfilm, how did people survive without it?

What do you cook at home on your days off?
With my fussy family it tends to be a roast.

What’s your earliest food memory? 
I pretty much hated all food when I was a kid apart from baked beans. I’ve moved up now as I like baked beans with Cajun spice or truffle and a good cheese on top. Gourmet me.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Wear your best pants on day one of work.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Crashing my Lambretta 7 years a go was a bit scary, but cliff jumping when I was a kid and miss-timing the sea swell and landing in shallow water was a close second.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
I don’t have any hair so I’m pretty easy.

Tipple of choice?
Cold cider but definitely not with ice.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Starter: Cadbury's Double Decker, fridge cold.
Main course: Monkey Fingers!!
Dessert: Lardy bread.
Second dessert: Malt loaf with salted butter.

Related topics: People

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