Head Chef at The Cary Arms in Babbacombe, Ben Kingdon talks to Taste Buds about his career
How long have you worked at The Cary Arms and why did you join?
I joined as sous chef just over four years ago, as I knew it would be a great place to work and to step up my career.
You have won an award: tell us about it.
I won the Great British Pub Food Award in the poultry category, with a duck dish. It was such a great feeling to win out of the whole UK and was a great opportunity to get my name out there and to meet new people.
What is your signature dish?
I would have to say my winning dish, which is roasted duck breast, sweet potato and parsnip crumble, with a shallot and smoked bacon jus.
What is best about being a chef in Devon?
We are right on the beach, with plenty of fish and seafood readily available, so cooking with fish is a must and it also happens to be my favourite food to work with.
Give us a 'must-try' dish.
I would say a simple fish dish such as fillet of lemon sole, with pesto mash and a white wine and dill sauce. Fish is so easy to cook and you can create a meal in minutes. I don't think people use fish enough at home, when they really should.
Describe your typical day.
Normally my day starts at 9am, giving me three hours to prep and sort out deliveries and get ready for the lunch service from 12 noon to 3pm. I then regroup and start prepping for the dinner service, from 6.30-9pm. I usually finish at about 10pm, so it's a long day!
Any tips for budding chefs?
I would say stick at it; it is difficult at times, but the rewards you can get and work towards are never ending. You also never stop learning, which makes the job even better.
What is your favourite kitchen tool?
I would say my Robot-Coupe tool. This is one of the most useful items in my kitchen. You can make most things from it, such as pastry, purees, herb crusts and many more, so it is very handy.
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