What’s on the menu this season?
It’s the change of seasons, a great time to talk about food. Right now we are welcoming grouse from Yorkshire and Scotland, venison from Wales and hearty English veg. Beetroot is a favourite; I love its earthy flavour, its variety and versatility. I love to salt bake them whole or to ferment or pickle them. And if beetroot is the hero, the perfect accompaniment would be some lovely English burrata. There’s an amazing Italian family in Ealing, West London, making burrata, mozzarella and ricotta from English milk, all delicious with beetroot.
We know you pay huge attention to detail when sourcing your produce. Tell us about your favourite winter ingredients and producers.
It all starts with the producers. You need great quality ingredients to create great dishes. We love to buy direct from the farms rather than the markets. This gives us better quality, the ingredients travel less, and we build valuable relationships with our suppliers, working with them to develop and source only the very best. We have about 40 suppliers we work with currently.
What about us mere mortals, can you help us pull off a delicious winter dinner at home?
I’m a firm advocate of keeping it simple. Preparation is key, so plan your menu, buy the best ingredients you can and make it easy on the day. You don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen.
Does drinking a glass of wine while you’re cooking help or hinder?
At work it’s a no-no, but at home, yes, sometimes. It’s lovely to chat and share a glass of wine as you prepare food with friends and family.
It can get a bit messy in the kitchen, so why are chefs’ whites white?
To look clean. It all harks back to Escoffier, the chef renowned for changing the business and creating the kitchen model we know today. He was key to establishing how kitchens are run, the importance of order and cleanliness. He led the use of chefs’ whites. But don't worry: even experienced chefs can get messy, especially with chocolate, pastry and fruit.
Talking of chocolate, are you a sweet or savoury kind of man?
Savoury for sure, always cheese. Comté, a dairy cheese, and for a no-cow dairy cheese, I love Ossau-Irraty; it has a lovely fudgy flavour. Here at the hotel, our cheeseboard is all British. We have such beautiful cheeses in our country. I love to shop at La Fromagerie in Marylebone. A favourite is soft Waterloo, and I love truffle honey with goat’s cheese. I’m not a fan of chutney but do like grapes, quince and celery as accompaniments.