I like to think that the food I cook is honest and from the heart, full of flavour, seasonal, not too complex or over complicated. The seasons dictate what I cook, which is why I love living and working in Sussex. We have some great produce here now – great beef from Andy at Trenchmore, lamb from Roly at Saddlescomb Farm, fruit and vegetables from Robin at Namayasai, game from Garlic Wood Farm, dairy, cheese and all things foraged from the coast, we’re lucky chefs!
There’s something special about the hospitality industry. It draws people from different backgrounds and nationalities to come together and push for the same goal. This industry has given me the opportunity to work all over the country and further a field such as Dubai, France and Spain and I’m very grateful for that.
I was born in Harrogate North Yorkshire. I had my first job as a kitchen porter in a family run fish restaurant El Pescado I was 14 years old. I absolutely loved it, seeing all the fish get delivered whole and expertly broken down by the chefs and I was like, “Wow, I want to be able to do that”.
I always loved helping in the kitchen at home but being in a professional kitchen at that age took my passion to the next level. I quickly left school and took a full-time commis chef job at the restaurant where I spent 3 years. I moved to Oxford, a two rosette country pub where I spent 3 fantastic years and also met my wife. We moved to Brighton in 2002, started a family and we now class here as our home.
Probably helping my mum prepare roast dinner, we had some sort of roast everyday apart from Sundays as that was her day off.
I met my wife in Oxford and we decided to travel around Europe for 6 months. On our return to England, we just decided to come to Brighton because it was by the sea. The food scene back in 2002 wasn’t great, there were only a handful of “ok” restaurants back then. I managed to get a job at Terre à Terre which I spent an incredible 5 years, met lifelong friends and learnt so much as a young, aspiring chef.
I love cooking at home and spending time with my family, eating out, wine, long walks, fishing, golf, cycling and the occasional bit of motocross.
One of my best kitchen memories would have to be cooking for the godfather of gastronomy, Pierre Koffmann. I was working in a restaurant in London at the time and we went through the lunch reservations as we did before every service, and the was no mention of his name. It was an open kitchen and about half way through service, I saw him walk into the restaurant and I just froze.
I cooked his lunch and when the waiter cleared the table, I asked if they enjoyed their meal. She said he wants you to go over to the table. I thought fuck me this is gonna go one way or the other. I went over and sat next to him. He bloody loved it! I sat there for a while, we chatted and then he asked if he could come and have a look around the kitchen. I invited him in, introduced him to the team, we joked around and laughed then he went on his way. What a bloody day!
I still love a roast dinner but only on a Sunday, lovely piece of roast beef, roast potatoes, decent Yorkshire pudding and lashings of horseradish, probably my death row meal.
I think if I wasn’t working in kitchens, I’d still be doing something with in the industry, maybe a mixologist. Quite similar to being a chef I suppose in terms of creativity.
Restaurants have been hit hard over the past couple of years with supply chain issues, higher food costs and strained labour, so I think smaller more focused menus will become more common.
To carry on making people happy with the food I cook and to start and maintain a successful business.
Any decent chef should have a lemon tart in their repertoire.
I eat out as much as possible and at very different restaurants from noodle bars to Michelin starred establishments so a little comes from there. I think if you’re fully immersed in this industry then it’s very easy to take inspiration from everywhere, a lot of mine comes from the people around me, nostalgic memories, family, travels, my suppliers and the seasons. Using the best ingredients with classic and modern techniques inspires me to never stand still and always push forward.
I’ve eaten at some incredible restaurants around the world but the one that sticks out the most is The Greenhouse in Mayfair it was an absolutely mind-blowing meal. Chef Alex Dilling‘s attention to detail, execution and ability to get flavour into his dishes is almost wizardry.
My favourite place to eat, be it by myself, with my family or friends is Unithai. I absolute love it. I’ve been going there for about 15 years and always have the same thing – 6b Pork balls, braised pork shoulder, aromatic broth, rice noodles and veg. Boring I know but it’s so consistent, no frills, just delicious food.
Published: 15th February 2022