Chef Q&A: Oliver D’Arcy, The George IV
- Credit: Archant
Owner and head chef of the Great Amwell pub and restaurant discusses the versatility of game, seasoning with thyme and a shift from classic to modern techniques
Describe your style
A modern, innovative British cuisine that incorporates influences from around the world.
How do you decide your menu?
The menu is created in line with the seasons to ensure availability of fresh ingredients from our suppliers while allowing the flexibility to prepare a variety of ‘special’ dishes.
What Herts producers do you use?
Long-standing relationships with local suppliers ensure we have quality produce delivered daily. Our fruit and veg is from Sparshotts in St Albans, fish from Marrfish in Bishop’s Stortford, and our butcher, Direct Meat, just over the county boundary in Essex. The Cheese Plate in Buntingford always provide a selection of excellent cheese.
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Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing?
While I enjoy preparing most dishes on our varied and seasonally changing menu, the game season – with venison, grouse or pheasant offering such versatility – is particularly enjoyable. Attention to detail in preparation is crucial to delivering consistency of service to customers.
What ingredient is most important to your cooking?
Every chef would say salt for its ability to enhance flavour but I do use thyme as it gives depth to the dishes and sauces.
Your best culinary idea?
The independence of running my own restaurant allows the freedom required to be creative and provides an opportunity for our young team to construct dishes that our guests can enjoy. This is a challenging and competitive industry but by retaining passion and enthusiasm in the kitchen, the result is clearly reflected in the food presented.
Who did you train under and what did they teach you?
Having graduated from the renowned Westminster College, I continued learning my trade under Phil Thompson at Auberge du Lac, who not only taught me about flavour combinations but how to extract the maximum use from any food product, which I know will serve me well in business. Sous chef Alex Bond, who joined from Sat Bains, influenced me in the change from classic to modern techniques and allowed my own style to evolve.
the next food trend?
The demand for tapas style or ‘small plate’ food has been growing and will be around for the next couple of years. I believe Middle Eastern food is also influencing our dishes. Whatever the food trend, maintaining high standards will be the key to longevity.
What’s in your fridge at home?
Coconut water and mum’s lamb stew to keep me going. Like most chefs, the last person you cook for is yourself.
Favourite quick meal?
Chicken stir fry – very quick.
Top three tips for amateur cooks?
1. Write everything down - recipe, prep list and method.
2. Season – taste – season - taste.
3. You’ve got to be a beginner before you can be anything else.