What was your first job?
My first cheffing job was as a commis at The Edge restaurant in Brighton (now Yefsis, I think). It's where I refined my club sandwich.
What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
Cereal, currently Minibix but this changes regularly. I also like KFC's spicy chicken wings.
What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
Dabbous by Ollie Dabbous. I love Ollie's food and I took my in-laws there to ask for my wife's hand in marriage. The meal was delicious as always but the company and the occasion can make or break a meal. Dabbous is very closely followed by Gokyuzu in Green Lanes, my wife and I lived in north london before we moved down to Brighotn and would eat at Gokyuzu at least once a week.
What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Josè Andrés - he started out with nothing and made a huge name for himself in the industry. He also founded World Central Kitchen, which is a non-profit that provides meals following natural disasters.
If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I work as a carpenter with my Dad when I’m not cooking, so probably that.
What is your biggest regret?
I try not to have them. I’ve been clean and sober for eight years and I’ve worked through my demons.
Pet hate in the kitchen?
What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
I served seabass en papillote and when I went to chat to the diners one lady confirmed that she loved the dish, including the parcel it had come in
What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Not necessarily a dish but the use of liquid nitrogen. Heston was its pioneer and it's elevated so many dishes.
Describe your cooking style in three words
Challenging, complex, smokey.
Most overrated food?
Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Late tables. When you’re cleaning down the kitchen and a table of six walk in at 10:30pm for dinner demanding taster menus. The stuff of nightmares.
What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
I'm very grateful to not have had one but I did get a very long email once early in the morning after a popup detailing the reasons this particular customer would not be returning, including the chair being uncomfortable and having to share a water jug.
If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Antonin Carême. He was chef for the Prince Regent at the Royal Pavillion. He grew up impoverished on the streets of Paris and eventually was considered the first ‘celebrity
chef’ and would produce banquets of 120 courses all cooked in coal or wood ovens. I’d like to have collaborated with him, I’m sure I could’ve learnt a thing or two.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Stay as low as possible for as long as possible in order to learn as much as you can. Also stay humble and don’t be a dick.
Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My smoker, it's become a signature part of my cooking style.
What do you cook at home on your days off?
Whatever my wife tells me to! Just homely wholesome stuff - we have a toddler and a baby and we try to introduce as many tastes as possible for them and make sure they
grow up with good eating habits.
What’s your earliest food memory?
My mums chicken pie.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The answer to all questions is enthusiasm.
What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Doing a frontside rodeo over a 20 metre jump and stalling half way. I used to be a semi-pro snowboarder.
Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
The cinema or surfing.
Tipple of choice?
What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Chinese take away for four. By myself.
For more details about Aaron Dalton's pop-ups series head to www.fourrestaurant.co.uk.