Interviewed July 2009
Martin Burge is head chef of Whatley Manor, which in 2009 received its second Michelin star. Nestling in the Cotswold countryside, this thoroughly deserves its second star based on my experience.
Q – How long have you been cooking professionally?
For 20 years.
Q – Where did you train to cook?
Brunel Technical College in Bristol
Q – How would you describe your style of cooking?
Classically French but with relevant modern interpretations
Q – Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?
If you consider what guests would like to eat, don't mess around with the food too much, source the best ingredients and give value for money you shouldn't go far wrong.
Q – Do you have a “signature dish” or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
The only dish that has been on the menu from day one is the snails cooked individually with a garlic cassonade and topped with a reduced red wine kidney sauce. I'm very proud of it and it’s certainly not the biggest seller but feedback from the guests warrant it staying on.
Q – Do you have a favourite ingredient?
I don't have one in particular but summer fruits are a relief following the frustrating winter season!
Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?
To be honest I don't eat in one restaurant frequently my curiosity gets the better of me and I like to explore different restaurants.
What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?
I have been very lucky whilst working for John Burton-Race to cook in countries like Barbados, Mauritius and Singapore. These are interesting memories that will always stay with me.
What would be your “last request” dish?
A proper authentic curry with my beautiful children would be perfect!
Is there another chef that you most admire?
Tough one....so many are in the mix, old and new. If I had to pick a few it would be the ones I worked for as they helped mould who I am today.
Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?
Think hard before you commit to it. It’s antisocial, long hours and high-pressured. If you are OK with that then go for it!
Any final thoughts you’d like to add?
Since the second star we must have had an increase in covers by 50% so the plan is to have a sommelier to deliver a more supportive service.