Chef interviews

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Thank you

Steve Smith

Interviewed July 2013

Q. How long have you been cooking professionally?

A. I've been cooking for 20 years, which has gone like a flash. The great thing about this profession is that there is always something to learn. Every day has different challenges to overcome. Thankfully however it has also delivered a lot of good times and a huge amount of pleasure.

Q. Where did you train to cook?

A.  I suppose now, I've spent more time training myself than I have working for other chefs. You don't ever stop training.  I spent time working for Jean Christophe Novelli at Gordleton, and The Four Seasons, at Gidleigh Park, and for Paul Heathcote, amongst others. These places taught me some of the values I still hold relevant today. 

Q.  How would you describe your style of cooking?

A.  I'd say it was fairly classical based. Using seasonal ingredients. 

Q.  Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?

A.  Don't try to be something your not. Offering people a quality and value for money have to be key. Trying to look after your guests and being  as helpful as possible can’t do any harm. 

Q.  Do you have a "signature dish" or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?

A.  I'm very happy with the current turbot dish. Turbot with cauliflower, shrimps and oxalis. I love eating it. I'd be quite happy if it became a signature dish here at Bohemia. I think customers will define the signature dishes, as they will undoubtedly not let us take them from the menu. I know lots of chefs that don't like to have signature dishes, but for me the reputation of the restaurant can be built on them. Holidays can be planned around going to try restaurants and dishes.....

Q.  Do you have a favourite ingredient?

A.  I love using scallops, they are easily my favourite ingredient. There so versatile, raw, cooked, marinated. You can pretty much do anything with them in any season.

Q.  Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off? 

A.   I'm quite happy eating on the patio, in the back garden.   I can't go wrong with a nice piece of grilled fish, a simple salad, and some Jersey Royals.  Oh and a nice white Burgundy.!

If were in France we'll always try and fit a meal in at Maisons de Bricourt on the way back. Even though Olivier Roellinger has renounced his three stars, its worth a trip just for the view. I still think the food is fabulous. Celler de can Rocca is a pretty special place for a meal. Such a fabulous restaurant.  

Q.  What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?

A. I think the first meals at both The Fat Duck and Celler de can Rocca were both of the above. The pleasure and giddy excitement from just having a fabulous time. Both meals probably have changed my perspective on how I thought about food to some degree. I can recall both meals as if I had eaten them last night.  

Q.  What would be your "last request" dish? 

A.  I'd be quite happy with a Roast Galloway Rib of Beef, truffles potatoes and some roast ceps. A great Zinfandel would help.

Q.  Is there another chef that you most admire? 

A. That's a toughie! I suppose it's difficult to name any one chef, there are too many. Pierre Gagnaire is pretty special though. 

Q.  Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?  

A. Make sure this is definitely what you want to do. Do it because you love food. Be prepared to put some hard work in. Also this is no profession to be crap at; be honest with yourself.  

Q.  Any final thoughts you'd like to share e.g. new developments at the restaurant?

A.   As the kitchen team moves forward I see the food getting simpler, as we get to know our suppliers better. As we get simpler, we can fully focus on precision, balance and depth of flavour.