Where do you get your menu ideas from?
My inspiration starts with what’s in season locally. Monday mornings involve a chat with our veg man about what local farmers will be harvesting that week. I then write a menu that suits our customers’ tastes and feels right for the mood of the season. We discuss it as a team to ensure we are communicating to our customers correctly, then hone it.
What is the must-try product on your menu?
I’m excited about the vegetarian dishes on our Christmas menu. There’s a rise in the popularity of plant-based cuisine, so I am certain that everyone will enjoy Home Farm Café’s vegetarian offer this December. One of our dishes is a toasted chestnut, chickpea and rosemary fritter with roast pear and a white wine and mustard sauce – a brand new dish for this year.
Can you sum up your cooking style in three words?
Approachable, wholesome and delicious.
What’s the best local produce to eat now?
This time of year makes us appreciate how good root vegetables are. From earthy beetroots and sweet parsnips to the much-underrated celeriac, root veg is the mainstay of winter seasonal eating.
Do you prefer to eat in or out?
Always out. It’s vital as a chef to see what other places are doing, how their menus use seasonality, and what interesting things might inspire me to try something new at the café. I think eating out should be part of the job description for all chefs!
What’s your favourite food gadget?
This is a gadget that every chef will appreciate – our Rational oven. Not far removed from a robot, it has all manner of settings that enable me to cook a fantastic range of food from a tiny kitchen. It controls heat and humidity, and has settings for slow-cooking meats. It also checks temperatures to ensure things are perfectly cooked and it self-cleans.
What is most unusual thing you have cooked or eaten?
Jenny Thompson, our General Manager, has an allotment. Sometimes she ‘treats’ me to unusual produce: skirret, Chinese artichokes and yacon were, shall we say, interesting! Needless to say, they didn’t make it to the café menu, but she has grown some brilliant squash and courgettes on our farm nearby that we use.
What influences your product choices?
Locality, of course, but I like suppliers that offer something interesting, or tell me a story about a product.