Chef Nick Leonard on the importance of limiting waste

Nick Leonard prepares dishes in the kitchens of ethical restaurant and wine bar Farmyard in Saint Le

Nick Leonard prepares dishes in the kitchens of ethical restaurant and wine bar Farmyard in Saint Leonards - Credit: Archant

Nick Leonard, head chef at Farmyard in St Leonards, discusses the importance of limiting waste

At around 16 years old I started reading cookbooks by Paul Bocuse, Nico Ladenis and the Roux brothers. I was hooked immediately, the passion and the detail spoke volumes.

I joined Farmyard just before Valentine's Day this year. I liked the philosophy behind the restaurant - great wine, great food, great provenance.

My culinary ethos is to believe in what you are cooking and respect and understand your ingredients. If you don't, it won't reach its true potential, and you'll have wasted time, energy and money.

At Farmyard we use single estate meat, a low-yield fishery, eggs from biodynamic farms and we are hot on recycling and try to limit single use plastics. We even write our food orders on recycled menus and then recycle those. The key thing is that we want to continue to find ways to improve and so help educate others to do the same.

We have great local suppliers. I think it's crucial to build a relationship with any grower, producer or merchant - they will be your eyes and ears at market or in the fields and orchards and think of you first if you have the right relationship with them.

I have so many favourite dishes at Farmyard, but our monthly wine and food matching events allow us to really push the boat out. At least one of the five or six dishes on the night will appear on the main menu, at least for a while.

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I don't really have a signature dish, but I'm pretty keen on patisserie and real bread. Fish, game, vegetarian and vegan dishes would also feature heavily on my top ten dishes.

I like the fact that you can prepare and cook a meal in Sussex, just like you can in France - gastronomic, explicitly regional and pure 'terroir'. My favourite Sussex dish would probably be Sussex pond pudding. I mean who doesn't like a 17th century steamed pudding?

I mostly like to eat at home with my family. In fact, there is something cooked at home every day, and we make sourdough bread at home every other week or so. But, for fun and fresh air I like to go to Goat Ledge on the beach in St Leonards, Gurkha Chef for Himalayan lamb curry, and definitely the mushroom and truffle croque, apple tart and chewy brown loaf at The Real Patisserie in Kemp Town.

My culinary heroes are Harold McGee, the food scientist, Dan Lepard, baker extraordinaire, Fergus Henderson, the master of meat, offal and game. I could name another 20. At least!

My advice to a young chef just starting their career would be to listen properly, watch closely, ask plenty of questions and really think about what you are actually doing. Taste what you cook. Oh, and work hard but don't play too hard!

52 Kings Road, Saint Leonards-on-sea TN37 6DY;


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