Taste Buds learns more about this passionate duo who run Il Casita in Crediton
How long have you been at Il Casita?
Nick: We opened the doors to Il Casita in June 2013.
Tina: Now in our 17th month, we are loving every minute of it. We have a couple of casual staff to help at weekends, but Nick and I are Il Casita’s heart and soul.
Your cooking inspiration?
Nick: The sea, the garden and the natural beauty of fresh ingredients.
Tina: The culinary family Roux. My love of desserts came about while training under the Roux brothers in the early 1990s. Albert Roux is a culinary genius and a true gentleman.
Sum up your cooking style in three words.
Nick: Simple, seasonal and tasty.
Tina: Yummy, sticky and pretty.
Must-try dish on your menu?
Nick: As it’s game season, try the lemon-and-thyme-rubbed partridge breast with spiced pumpkin purée and beetroot crisps.
Tina: Café Gourmand at Il Casita is a real winner, comprising three miniature desserts and an espresso coffee.
Local produce to eat now?
Nick: Pumpkins, game, wild boar and day boat fish from Brixham.
Do you prefer to eat in or out?
Nick: Being busy we have few opportunities to try other establishments. If we had a day off we would visit The Room at The Elephant in Torquay. We love Simon Hulstone's ethos and inspiring dishes.
Tina: Being a small family, eating out gives us a break and much-needed family time, but our daughter and I still think that Dad’s cooking is best.
Savoury or sweet?
Nick: Savoury – I love a good cheeseboard in place of a dessert!
Top tip for budding chefs?
Nick: Work in as many kitchens as possible throughout your career – watching, listening and learning. Always ask questions and take it all in.
Tina: Let the produce inspire you, don’t be afraid to try new things and if it doesn’t work, try again. Don’t give up. Take advice from chefs willing to share their knowledge. Even the best are still learning!
Favourite kitchen gadget?
Nick: My cook’s knife – it goes everywhere with me in the kitchen.
Tina: The best gadget is a great partner in the kitchen, so I guess that is Nick! Oh and my Kitchen Aid!
Tina: Our Christmas menu runs throughout December for Christmas parties, alongside our à la carte menu.The restaurant has two secluded areas that are ideal for parties of 10 in one room and eight in the other. In our main room we have a Romeo and Juliette table that can seat six. There are also a few tables left for New Year’s Eve. All menus are available on our website.
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Jeff Cooper: 01626 871161
Jennie Cooper: 01626 871161
Julie Hutchins: 07843 621463
The JulAug issue of Taste Buds is out now