What was your first job?
Kitchen assistant at the Romney grill at weekends when I was still at school; must have only been about 13 or 14.
What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
Morley’s fried chicken in Deptford; I’m addicted to the BBQ wings.
What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
Casamia in Bristol, it’s the next two Michelin star restaurant in this country.
What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Robert Thompson. I spent nearly 7 years with him, and learnt so much; it gave me the desire that I have now to push myself more and more.
If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
Probably working in a wakeboard camp in a country that’s hotter than England.
What is your biggest regret?
Life is too short to have regrets; regret holds you back from moving forward.
Pet hate in the kitchen?
Chefs not turning timers off; the constant beeping does my nut in!
What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Someone once said they wanted to taste the pineapple tattoo on your neck.
What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Egg custard tart; for something so simple it really is beautiful.
Describe your cooking style in three words
Simple, fun and flavoursome.
Most overrated food?
Pizza; I can take it or leave it.
Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Ticket machines; life in the kitchen is so much easier with everything handwritten.
What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Luckily the harshest reviews I’ve had so far have been from my family.
If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Nico Ladenis, because he’s one of the industry’s legends.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Get a little pocket notebook and write everything down, learn as much as you can, and the hard work will pay off.
Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My rocher spoon; I’ve had it for years.
What do you cook at home on your days off?
I always cook really healthy dishes at home. I’m really into the gym at the moment, so I’m trying to keep my diet in check. It’s normally fish with lots of greens, chilli, ginger and tons of citrus and coriander.
What’s your earliest food memory?
I remember sitting on the kitchen worktop when I lived in Camber. I was peeling mushrooms for my mum and cracking eggs for breakfast. I asked her about it recently and she said I used to help her cook breakfast when my brother was born; I was about 4 years old.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Last year Andrew Fairlie came into where I was working. I cooked for him and sat down with him after. He told me to keep doing what I’m doing, believe in myself and never stop pushing.
What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I went into anaphylactic shock once at a hospital. When I came around there were 10 doctors working to revive me.
Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Smoking Goat in Shoreditch; Ali’s food is unreal, and the drinks are always off the chart.
Tipple of choice?
Gin and tonic with a healthy amount of fresh lime.
What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
A massive slab of beef, and a slice of foie gras and covered in truffles… if it’s the last meal you’ve got to go all out, right?