Stacey Sheppard speaks to the Masterchef of Great Britain
Peter, Vice Chairman of the Master Chefs of Great Britain, began his career in 1980 and trained at some of the best restaurants in the world. He was the proprietor of the Carved Angel restaurants and cafés in Exeter, Taunton and Dartmouth and The Horn of Plenty Country House Hotel & Restaurant near Tavistock in Devon. In August he opened his latest restaurant, Gorton’s in Tavistock.
How did you first discover your love for cooking and when did you decide you wanted to be a chef?
It started when I was working part-time in a local restaurant while I was at Art College. My passion for food grew and I decided to change careers.
How would you describe your approach to food and cooking?
Good fresh local ingredients. A good classical underpinning is a must for any chef but really my style is quite eclectic.
You have travelled and worked all over the world. What effect has this experience had on your cooking style?
It has made such a difference and I recommend it to all young chefs. I have cooked in Australia, Thailand and Japan. It has helped me understand many different styles.
You recently launched a new restaurant in Tavistock called Gorton’s. What can people expect?
A warm welcome and comfortable and friendly service – and of course good local food!
What is it about Devon, and Tavistock in particular, that convinced you to move here and open a restaurant?
I came to Devon from The Priory in Bath where I was the sous chef. I became the Head Chef, following Sonia Stevenson, at The Horn of Plenty. I fell in love with the area and also with a local girl which helped to keep me down here! I sold ‘The Horn’ last year and have been looking for a suitable venue for a small intimate restaurant. At last we found it in Tavistock, my home patch.
What are your favourite locally sourced ingredients and why?
The local meat, fish and vegetables are the best but I think my very favourite are local crabs!
Aside from your own restaurant, where do you most like to eat out locally and why?
I like the Tanners Barbican Kitchen, the Japanese restaurant ‘Yukisan’ also on the Barbican, and Chloe’s restaurant in Plymouth.
You take part in lots of public cooking demonstrations at local foodie events. Why do you think such demonstrations are important?
I think it is important to promote local producers at food fairs and show people how to easy, or shall I say ‘not too hard’ it is to cook from scratch.
Can you tell us about the Food is Fun programme that you run to help educate school children?
Bringing the idea that food is fun to children is very important, we hope they take their enthusiasm back with them to their families. We keep up the mantra of healthy, fresh and local as much as we can.
Aside from being a chef, you also run a consultancy service helping other restaurateurs to maximise profit and efficiency. Why did you decide to get into consultancy and how does your work in this field benefit the local area?
The last year has been terrific for me, being able to go around to different restaurants and kitchens, helping and advising the owners and chefs. I also have learnt a lot from the experience.
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… just like the food we write about, Taste Buds is lovingly made using the finest local ingredients!
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The SepOct issue of Taste Buds is out now