What inspires you?
I have been inspired over the years by travel, in particular when I worked in France, going to the fantastic Rungis Market in Paris, where all the producers bring the most wonderful fresh ingredients and produce. It absolutely makes your mouth water and inspires you to cook.
Must-try product in the deli?
In the summer, I would recommend our kiln-roasted smoked salmon pâté with Riverford Dairy Crème Fraîche and Dill (homemade locally). We have just won a Taste of the West Gold award for this delicious product. It’s great with our crusty hot bread, freshly baked in the shop.
Sum up your cooking style in three words?
Taste, provenance, wow-factor!
The best local produce to eat now?
We make our salads with seasonal ingredients, such as our heritage tomato salad with basil, onion, olive oil and mozzarella. We also stock bags of fabulous varied salad leaves, with beautiful edible flowers grown locally by the Husbandry School. I would add a slice of our delicious homemade quiche or tartlets – the flavours vary seasonally but could include broad beans, peas, rocket and goat’s cheese, or roasted pepper and basil. And we stock blends of locally-roasted Voyager coffee, and delicious drinks from Ashridge and Luscombe.
Do you prefer to eat in or out?
I like to cook for family and friends at home, but I also enjoy trying new restaurants as they can often inspire me.
Your top tip for budding chefs?
My tip would be to listen to the mantra from a lot of chefs “mise en place”, meaning “putting in place”. In other words: good preparation makes for good eating!
What’s your favourite food gadget?
A good quality mandolin.
Tell us the most unusual thing you have cooked/eaten?
Camel Schnitzel in Australia!
What influences your product choices?
I work closely with the owners, Robin and Sue Hudson, we decide on new savouries and sweets to make for the shop. We offer a small outside catering service and I am very involved in choosing the menus for that. We attach great importance to finding products of good quality, which are made locally – both as ingredients for the food I cook and for the produce stocked in the shop. There’s an extensive selection of local and continental cheeses and charcuterie, and we put out tasters on the counter every day.
Taste is very important, as is packaging. Bad packaging can completely ruin the chances of success in a product, no matter how good it tastes! We like to find artisan producers who are making something interesting and different. Listening to customer feedback is key and sometimes they recommend things for us to try. All this attention to detail has made Ashburton Delicatessen a very special shop to visit.