Where was your first job?
I was on the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) around 1983 and as part of that, I worked with South Devon College and at the Mill at Avonwick, now the Turtley Corn Mill. I’ve never worked anywhere more than 20 miles from where I live in Buckfastleigh and I’ve never been out of work.
Why did you get into cooking?
I didn’t want to do woodwork at school, so I did home economics and I really enjoyed it. I think it’s something I was born to do and I’m very passionate about it. I’m not a fine-dining chef. I’m into good quality, hearty food. I’ve always been a workaholic, so I like the lifestyle of being a chef.
So, you’re happiest when you’re busy?
Yes, but cheffing can also be a lonely life. You have to be dedicated to it. People will queue for hours for anything at all but when it comes to food, they don’t want to wait. It can get quite pressurised.
What influences your cooking style?
I love cooking with fish because we have such lovely seafood in this area. Game and pheasant, too. From October to January, we have Berry Pomeroy pheasants at the Pig & Whistle that come from the local shoot.
What ingredients do you love working with?
Fresh fish: skate wing and wild seabass, scallops and local mussels – Fowey mussels are the best but I like Exmouth Bay mussels too.
What are your top dishes on the Pig & Whistle menu?
Whistle chicken: chicken breast stuffed with smoked cheddar and wrapped in bacon. And slow-roasted pork belly is very popular. It comes with an apricot stuffing and a cider sauce and it’s my signature dish.
What’s your favourite dish to cook?
At the moment, it’s hand line-caught cod on fennel, roasted potatoes and cherry tomatoes, with a red pepper and basil dressing.
What do you cook at home?
A cottage pie or even a chicken Kiev from M&S – it’s quick and simple after you’ve cooked all day!
Have you ever fancied working outside of Devon?
Sometimes I wish I had when I was younger, but not now. I love it here and I love working at the Pig with ‘my boys’ in the kitchen. I also have a great relationship with Phil and Donna; they treat me like one of the family because I’ve been here for so long.