My food ethos is simple.
The discerning British public deserves respect from us restaurateurs.
We should at all times only be serving the very best, fresh sustainable foods sourced from genuine producers and honourable suppliers.
Wherever possible this should be of local, regional origin, making it fresher, reducing food miles, and supporting our local economies.
We should cook and serve this food with love and understanding plus no small amount of passion!
And at all times - with more than just a smile!!
In over forty years of being involved with the catering industry I have seen many changes. We now live in a totally different, somewhat enlightened and curiously dangerous age compared with what seems, on reflection, to have been a much simpler, easier, less 'hustle and bustle' time.
Back in the late 60s and early 70s when scampi and chips, chicken in the basket and black forest gateaux ruled the culinary world, and a steak in a 'Berni Inn' was considered the height of fine dining - no one was remotely interested in sustainability, fair trade or animal welfare.
Fanny Craddock taught us the joy of the cheese 'hedgehog', the over use of angelica and curiously coloured glace cherries, and the ghastly use of food colourings in things like mashed potato (which should never, ever be lime green!)
It wasn't until the arrival of good Saint Delia Smith that things started to seriously improve. She really has been a tremendous influence on my culinary journey to date.
My Delia-style roast potatoes are my earliest recollection of a D/S inspired method, and - if you ever sample the dark field mushroom and cream cheese pate we occasionally have on the menu - that recipe of Delia's came from the 'food aid' charity cook book.
Apart from the 'galloping gourmet' and dear old Keith Floyd, there were very few celebrity chefs to inspire me in my early days as a chef.
Not until the mid-eighties and the emergence of the ground breaking Thames television series, 'Take Six Cooks' - closely followed by 'Take Six More Cooks' - were these highly skilled, moody, and in some cases obnoxious individuals brought into our living rooms.
Suddenly, from being famous in their own little restaurant worlds, these chefs became well-known household names.
We became TV friends of Anton Mosiman, Albert Roux, Richard Shepherd, Paul Gayler and dear Joyce Molyneux from Devon's famous Carved Angel restaurant.
We liked the sound of top chef names such as Gunn Eriksen, Michael Bourdin and Nico Ladenis - they conjured up pictures of complicated recipes using little-known ingredients, cooked with a certain reverence and mystery - could we really all cook like that?? Hmmm!
Nowadays we are far more 'food literate'. Our palates have been refined, our knowledge enhanced and our taste buds bombarded with all manner of taste experiences from the food manufacturers alchemy closet.
However, can we believe Heston's 'molecular gastronomy' is anything more than pure entertainment?
Jimmy's food factory is now a big boy's playground - mixing food science with theatrical fun.
Food programmes have become 'arty'. Nigella's and Nigel Slater's programmes are a strange mixture of subtle camera work, innuendo and food! They have their place - but will always attract their critics.
… and because we all love food and gardens 'Alys Fowler's Edible Garden' was an inevitability.
This combination of pastimes was brought together recently in a very charming way by the adorable Raymond Blanc and the delightful Kate Humble in ‘Kew on a plate’ - Good content… with humour and passion…my kind of thing!
Then there’s the old eco warrior himself, Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall. Hurrah!! I do enjoy Hugh and what he has achieved, not only with River Cottage, but also the Fish Fight and the educational side of his work. Seems a long time ago when we first saw him as a grubby little ‘oik…peddling down a country lane in pursuit of ‘wild edibles’ to cook up in a pan in the great outdoors…Good for him I say.
Rick Stein, Michel Roux, Gary Rhodes, Hairy Bikers, Two Fat Ladies, Tom Kerridge, John Torode, James Martin Oh! The list is endless Who can forget Ainsley Harriott, Antony Worrall-Thompson and Brian Turner….all seem genuinely interested in sharing their knowledge and skills, plus their ability to influence the way we shop and cook.
There is another group who I single out as being, in my opinion, very genuine when it comes to passing on their knowledge and enthusiasm for what is an essential yet sometimes passionate and mostly, enjoyable pastime – cooking!
Valentine Warner, Thomasina Miers, and Jamie Oliver are three I single out…Full of bright ideas and very sensible ways to eat well… I have witnessed their joy in teaching children in particular…something that is so vital in this somewhat ‘obese’ age…
I loved the episode of ‘A Cook Abroad’ with Monica Galetti – as inspiring as the episode with Tony Singh was humbling…food programmes can be very good to watch.
I couldn’t write this without comment about ‘The Great British Bake-Off’ which certainly got a nation cooking and made Marry Berry a very British Institution and Paul Hollywood adored by countless female fans!
I haven’t mentioned ‘Master Chef’ because that would take another chapter! –
Enough said…for now!
All this and years at the stove have taught me many things and
honed my own beliefs as to what should and should not be.
The result is the creative style of food that I cook today.
12 – 2pm
Tuesday to Sunday
Friday and Saturday