Stacey Sheppard speaks to Callum Tasker from the Edgemoor in Bovey Tracey
Callum Tasker is Head Chef at The Edgemore Hotel where he serves up modern British food with a fun twist. Having worked in a number of the region’s top restaurants, Callum appreciates the sheer variety of local produce available and tries to incorporate this into his menu whenever possible.
How did you first discover your love of cooking and when did you decide you wanted to be a chef?
I wanted to be a chef from a young age. I have always loved the way that at meal times everyone gathers around the table and discusses their day. My Nan was a fantastic cook. She would bake from dusk till dawn to supply the church for coffee mornings.
What is your background?
When I turned 16 I started college in Skegness in Lincolnshire and was approached by a chef working in Cotswolds House Hotel in Chipping Campden. Simon Hulstone took me on as apprentice chef and I spent two years there learning all aspects of the kitchen. Then Simon left to return to Torquay where he set up The Elephant and I spent the best part of two years there.
Later I became second chef at the White Horse in Moretonhampstead where I worked for just under two years before getting a job in Brixham at the Quayside Hotel working alongside Andy Sewell. I moved to the Edgemoor in October 2010.
You have worked at quite a few restaurants in the region. What is it about the restaurant scene in South Devon that keeps you here?
The array of restaurants and pubs around are incredible. You can eat around the world in just one town from Asian to fish and chips, to high-end fine dining. It also helps that the produce is some of the best in the British Isles.
How would you describe your approach to food and cooking?
I will give anything a go. As a chef I can’t be fussy because it is my job to taste and that’s reflected in my waist band – you can’t trust a skinny chef! I am really relaxed in the kitchen and don’t often lose my patience. I think that if a Head Chef panics the whole team panics.
The Edgemoor kitchen prides itself on the use of local produce. What difference does this make to the food you serve in the restaurant?
The produce speaks for itself. Being in Devon we have both amazing fish and meat and that makes my job easy because all I have to do is make it look nice.
What are your favourite locally sourced ingredients and why?
From the sea there is sea bass, Gilthead bream and dive-caught scallops. There’s beef from Dartmoor and Tiverton, free-range pork from Newton Abbot and fresh fruit and veg from Bovey Tracey. It really is a blessing to have such high-quality produce and suppliers in our local community.
Where do you most like to eat out locally and why?
My girlfriend and I don’t have much time to eat out, being parents of two beautiful boys, Noah and George, but when we do, we like to eat at the La Forchette in Totnes and also The Jack In The Green Inn in Rockbeare near Exeter.
What is your favourite meal?
I think it would have to be a roast, because it is so versatile. Everyone says it has to be done a certain way, usually with roasted potatoes but sometimes it is nice to break the rules and to serve it with dauphinoise and different veg like Jerusalem artichoke purée.
What is your signature dish?
I don’t really have one yet as I am still experimenting with new ideas, but perhaps my ‘Fish ’n Chips’ on the Bistro menu. It’s everything you would get from a chippy, but done with creativity and flair. We really care about what we do and hopefully it shows.
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