Interviewed August 2010
Q – How long have you been cooking professionally?
I started cooking in Australia, March 1995. It wasn’t until the following year March 1996 that I moved to London. This is when I believe my professional career began.
Q – Where did you train to cook?
My training has been working and eating in some great kitchens in London and around the world. I worked at Kensington Place for many years and this gave me a great understanding of simplicity. The Fat Duck taught me the importance of consistency. Also how important that extra care and attention to detail can really make all the difference. My eating experiences in the south of France and Chicago are also points of reference that I will never forget. The beauty of my job is that I am always learning.
Q – How would you describe your style of cooking?
Seasonal, intelligently simple, clean in presentation with clear flavours and exactly what I am confident and happy cooking. All dishes need to be full of flavour and up to my standard. I try to cook food people want to eat.
Q – Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?
Be honest with yourself and customers. Cook from the heart and this will shine through. Use great ingredients but charge the right prices to meet your margins. A great team spirit between front and back of house is also key in my opinion. Give your customers something special and hopefully your restaurant will work. Also know what you customers like and listen to them.
Q – Do you have a “signature dish” or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
My Scotch egg or rabbit lasagne seem to be a “signature dish” I can’t really take them off the menu. I really enjoy cooking game in season and believe that my game dishes are favourites with our customers. Traditional Roast Grouse or various game pies. I also love to cook fish. Fish in the UK is so delicious.
Q – Do you have a favourite ingredient?
Probably a lemon. I use lemon to season everything, it just lifts things. Chefs that don’t use lemon are missing out.
Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?
I enjoy a good curry or Chinese. Madhu’s in Southall is good or if I’m in London I like Zuma and Roka, for a good British pub lunch I like the Bell in Waltham St Lawrence.
What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?
It would have to be setting up the Hinds Head, Bray. We really did start from scratch with the place and you cannot buy that sort of experience. The team were all great people and also being quite successful made the whole experience very special.
What would be your “last request” dish?
Tagliatelle with white truffles or roast grouse, bread sauce, game chips and gravy. Both make me very happy. Or for something completely different, my mum’s shepherd’s pie!
Is there another chef that you most admire?
You have to admire all successful chefs with great restaurants, but as I have seen how Heston has gotten to the top so quickly I would have to say Heston deserves admiration for his pure passion, commitment, obsession and imagination. He has that x factor for sure.
Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?
I would advise anyone that wanted to become a chef that they should always work in a good kitchen with an intelligent chef. Also that they should eat out as much as possible to gain a palate and understanding of what great food is.
Any final thoughts you’d like to add?
Opening the Beehive has been a wonderful experience, as a chef you dream of opening your own restaurant. We have a huge amount to achieve and are focusing on pushing standards higher and higher.
Our main focus is simply on finding the best produce, developing a brilliant team and getting better.
I love restaurants and the journey so far has been truly amazing.