What was your first job?
It was a small pub just around my family home in the Worcestershire suburbs. Nothing ground breaking in terms of their cuisine, but it taught me all the fundamentals of being a chef; organising oneself, cleanliness and running a section.
What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
I am partial to a corned beef and tomato sandwich.
What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
I’ve been lucky to have eaten in some amazing restaurants; Frantzen in Stockholm, Gaggan in Bangkok and The Fat Duck in Bray. But Eleven Madison Park topped all of them. It was my first three-Michelin starred meal; it was the end of a four-week trek around the US with my (now) wife, the food and service were sublime. I remember the small gifts they gave us to remember the restaurant by and thinking how cool and hospitable it was. Truly inspiring.
What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Andreas Antona is by far the most inspirational restaurateur I have worked for. His passion and enthusiasm for the industry is incomparable to anyone else. I really hope in the next few years he can help team Bocuse d'Or UK get a podium spot as I know how much it means to him and all the effort he has put in the last few years.
If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
Probably annoying my wife.
What is your biggest regret?
Honestly, I don’t think I have any. I would probably say I have made many mistakes and tried to learn from them the best way I can.
Pet hate in the kitchen?
Whistling. It drives me insane.
What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
“You seem to work a lot of hours”.
What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Pierre Koffmann’s pigs trotters with sweetbreads and morels.
Describe your cooking style in three words
Ingredient-led, flavourful, passionate (four I know).
Most overrated food?
Gold leaf. Expensive, very expensive.
Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Again, whistling in the kitchen.
What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
My nan saying at Christmas time “you’re meant to be a chef and you can’t even cook the sprouts properly”. Savage.
If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
My wife, mainly because she doesn’t let me on my days off.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Head down, graft as hard as you can, don’t talk back and keep smiling.
Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My Mac chef knife. It's unbelievably versatile and stays sharp.
What do you cook at home on your days off?
I tend not to. My wife is an awesome cook. If I do, it’s something simple like a risotto.
What’s your earliest food memory?
Fish fingers, chips and beans; healthy start to life!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t neglect your family and friends.
What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I was involved in a car accident when I was 11, broke my neck and was off school for a couple of months.
Tipple of choice?
I’m a simple man, a nice pint of Purity Lawless will do for me.
What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
My wife’s lasagne. It's three stars in my eyes!