What is your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from many areas, for example, conversations, ideas, produce and the time of year. The Lemon Meringue was inspired by the classic Lemon Meringue Pie that we wanted to bring up to date in a way that was unique to us, this includes our Meringue Swirl and our ‘tiny lemon’.
The must-try dish on your menu?
Venison ‘Muscat Waldorf’. Venison is a lean meat that takes skill to prepare and cook properly. The accompanying ‘Muscat Waldorf’ is a twist on a classic Waldorf salad, comprising Muscat grapes instead of traditional ones. We use these grapes because of their floral notes, which complement the earthy venison flavour well.
Can you sum up your cooking style in three words?
Seasonal, simple, thoughtful.
Local produce to eat now?
Mallard – wild duck. Mallard duck is a much leaner, fuller-flavoured duck, which will hold up well against strong flavours such as parsnip and pear, or celeriac and truffle.
Do you prefer to eat in or out?
I prefer to eat in with my family; my children love to cook with me, which makes that time precious.
Top tip for budding chefs?
Head down, work hard, don’t moan, crack on.
Favourite food gadget?
Either our hand blender or Kitchen Aid – we would be lost on a day-to-day basis without these two bits of kit. We use the Kitchen Aid to make everything from the coffee cream in the Gateaux Opera for afternoon tea, to whisking the meringue to order on the Lemon Meringue. We use the hand blender to emulsify our glazes, to give them a pristine shimmer on pastry, and to whisk the Bouche and Bisques on the pass.
What is the most unusual thing you have cooked/eaten?
I once tried smoked crow… once… never again!
What influences your menu choices?
The main elements of the menu are derived from seasonality. However, our cheeses, for example, have been carefully selected from my favourites – those that I think everyone will love, both local and European. I discovered a cheese when I was 17 that I particularly enjoyed and never forgot about. To my delight, two years ago, one of our suppliers managed to track down the exact cheese for us to put on our cheese board – Monte Nebro. The rind of the cheese is from the same bacteria culture used to make Roquefort giving it a natural saltiness, which pairs fantastically well with our Pear Jelly.