Revelations, The Caterer ~ The Full interview

Revelations, The Caterer ~ The Full interview

This week I’ve appeared in The Caterer’s Chef section after answering a tweet sent out by Managing editor Amanda Afiya, asking for chefs to take part. Despite how some chefs deride The Caterer for what it once was (ie lots of pages, but many were adverts), secretly they all know that appearing on its pages carries a little bit of kudos.

So here it is, a peak into my little world, all thirty questions uncensored & edited. Due to space restrictions, I would imagine, the original article only used sixteen.

1. What was your best subject at school?

Economics, although I wasn’t what you’d call a high achiever at school. I believe the phrase “could do better” made several appearances on my school reports.

2. What was your first job?

I suppose helping my Dad with deliveries for my Mum’s shop, would have been about 7 or 8 years old.

3. What was your first job in catering?

Management Technical Trainee for De-Vere Hotels in 1988.

4. What do you normally have for breakfast?

Depends where I am: if on site it will be a coffee & a bacon butty; at home, it will be a coffee and a couple of yogurts. If I’m at home during the weekend, I’ll cook a full English breakfast for my Girlfriend(now fiance) and me.

5. What do you do to relax?

Surfing the net, I just find it fascinating. I’ll also watch some of the TV I’ve recorded during the week.

6. Which is your favourite restaurant?

Alain Ducasse ~ Plaza Athénée in Paris. Went for my 30th Birthday and I was just amazed at the food, attention to detail and service. My dining partner had asked for a signed menu as a memento, instead I got a goodie bag with a freshly baked loaf of bread, quite random. In the UK: LMQS; Gidleigh Park & Robert Thompson all rate highly.

Robert Thompson at The Hamborough

Robert Thompson at The Hambrough

7. What’s your favourite hotel?

The Metropolitan, Park Lane, London.

8. What is your favourite drink?

Opus One or Mojitos

9. What is your favourite food/cuisine?

Chinese or Thai for take away, contemporary French for eating out.

10. Which ingredient do you hate the most?

Okra; really what is the point?

11. Are there any foods/ingredients that you refuse to cook with? If so, why?

Not really, only one in particular because of health reasons (see Q23)

12. What flavour combinations to do you detest?

Warm vanilla mayonnaise, as eaten in a famous 3Michelin star.

13. What do you always carry with you?

iPhone, car keys & a spoon

14. How would you describe your desk?

Organised Chaos; I know where everything is, my Girlfriend might disagree.

15. Which person in catering have you most admired?

Raymond Blanc. I grew up in the era when Le Manoir was establishing itself. M. Blanc suffered massively for his beliefs in what LMQS should be rather than what was more profitable. Nobody is more synonymous with any product or brand in hospitality that personifies quality.

16. Which person gave you the greatest inspiration?

The first chef de partie I worked under, Richard ‘Tiny’ Banks. He was a giant of a man who took a naïve 16 year old under his wing. Sadly lost touch a number of years ago.

17. Cast away on a desert island, what luxury would you take?

A decent bed & mattress. Can achieve so much with a good nights sleep.

18. What daily newspaper/website do you read?

Twitter (via Hootsuite)

19. If not yourself, who would you rather have been?

Bill Shankly

20. If you had not gone into catering, where do you think you would be now?

Goodness only knows, I might have started blogging earlier than in my late 30s.

21. Describe your ultimate nightmare?

Restaurant full of fruitarians

22. When and where was your last holiday?

Last October. Did a week long road trip from Devon to Edinburgh via my home town. Stopped off at Hawkshead Relish, L’Enclume, Martin Wishart & Mark Greenaway.

23. Tell us a secret…

I’m allergic to bananas

24. What irritates you most about the industry?

Lieu days. An absolute fallacy that blights the industry. Owners & managers demand that their staff work extra days because of demands on the business. Yet when staff come to use their accrued lieu time there are always reasons & excuses to why they can’t take the days they would like. Or the other route which is more corporate, which is to have an expiration date, then the staff lose them. It shows a real lack of give & take by the industry.

25. When did you last eat a hamburger?

Last month

26. What’s your favourite film?

The Usual Suspects

27. What’s your favourite book?

Louis le Brocquy, The Head Image. Probably one of my favourite artists and was fortunate enough to meet him when I worked in Dublin.

28. What is your favourite prepared product?

Salad Cream

29. Who would be in your “fantasy” brigade? (please give full names and details of where they currently work)

Alan Murchison (l’Ortolan), Clare Clark, Tim Hollingsworth (French Laundry), Jason Atherton (Pollen Street) and Shaun Hill. All people that I admire & respect within the industry.

30.If you had more time, what you do?

Spend it with the ones I love & think less about work.

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