Flash-grilled: Rick Toogood

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled with Prawn on the Lawn seafood restaurant chef and co-owner Rick Toogood

Related tags: Seafood, Restaurant, Chef

Working with his wife Katie, Rick Toogood is co-owner and chef of fishmonger and seafood restaurant Prawn on the Lawn, which operates two sites in Islington and Padstow respectively.

What was your first job?
A paper round in the local village, earning a whopping 50p for delivering 20 newspapers.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
McDonald's double cheeseburger and strawberry milkshake. Whenever me and Katie work up in London we often finish after midnight and stop for a cheeky McDonald's on the way home. 

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
Too many to choose from. Favourites have included The Seahorse; Coombeshead farm; Story; Brat; Restaurant Nathan Outlaw; and Sabor, to name a few.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
Mitch Tonks; he’s helped guide me hugely, and have serious respect for everything he’s achieved.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I studied design at University and through refurbishing the restaurants have realised a real passion for designing spaces.  I’m mildly obsessed with George Clarke, so it would have to be something along those lines, whether it be architecture or helping to design restaurant spaces.

What is your biggest regret?
To be honest I don’t really have any regrets, any rough period in my life I’ve definitely learnt a lot from and has shaped where I am today.

Pet hate in the kitchen?

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
In Prawn on the Lawn we have a working fishmongers at the front, which is in the dining space. A customer had booked a table and their other half had a phobia of crustaceans and asked if we minded covering up the whole display whilst they dined.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Egg and soldiers.

Describe your cooking style in three words
Simple, punchy, and fresh.

Most overrated food?

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Not giving the bread we bake everyday away free to customers.

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Family and friends; they all deserve treating.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Get your head down: focus, be a sponge, and immerse yourself in it all.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?

What do you cook at home on your days off?
Thai-style noodle soups. 

What’s your earliest food memory? 
Going to the fishmonger in the market in St.Peter port, Guernsey, picking a crab, mum cooking it, then trying to help pick the meat out whilst munching it at the same time.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Communicate; it’s the key to everything.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
When I was on holiday in Biarritz, France, as a kid, and getting caught in waves when a current dragged me out.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Skiing, anywhere where there’s snow and a steep slope.

Tipple of choice?

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
A massive steamed crab, Guernsey butter, aioli, and Coombeshead Farm sourdough.

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