Here’s cooking with you Ray Clarke from the Fishmarket Restaurant in Benfleet

Cooking with Ray Clarke

Cooking with Ray Clarke - Credit: Archant

Where do you work?

I am head chef at the Fishmarket Restaurant in Benfleet.

What is your earliest food memory?

Making lemon mousse soufflés at my last job.

What was your first ever job and where was it?

I worked in the kitchens at Friern Manor Hotel in Dunton.

What was it about food which

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excited you enough to make a career out of it?

I just liked the idea of experimentation and using different ingredients.

If you weren’t on the stoves, where would you be now?

If I wasn’t a chef I have no idea what I would be doing. I’ve always wanted to be a chef and had no other plans, but if I had to pick an alternative, I would probably be an electrician.

Who would you love to cook for

and why?

I would love to cook for Gordon Ramsay, just to prove there is another one of him about.

How would your team describe you?

My team has described me as dedicated and professional.

Which is your favourite dish to prepare?

Arbroath smokey: reduced cream wholegrain mustard, baby haddock topped with cheese and baked for five to six minutes.

Who was your inspiration to take up cooking and how do they affect what you do now?

It was Gordon Ramsay when I was growing up. I was so impressed with his different combinations of food and the presentation of his food is always amazing.

Which are your three favourite ingredients to work with?

I think I would pick swordfish, halibut and ginger.

Any celebrity moments you can share with us?

Unfortunately, no. I have been to Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants twice, but never met the man.

Tell us a bit about you at home. Where do you originally come from and how did you end up here?

I’m originally from Laindon in Basildon. I ended up there because the owner was looking for a chef de partie. I was only 18 or 19 and she lives near my granddad, so I found out about the job through him.

At home, who lives there and who cooks most of the time?

I live with my future wife. We’re getting married in July and I do most of the cooking at home.

When I’m not in the kitchen I love nothing better than...

Sitting having a meal with the missus. I try to spend most of my spare time with her really.

When I was little I wanted to be a…

It was always a chef. I’m living the dream, really.

Have you had any kitchen disasters? Can you tell us about one you’d rather forget?

Thankfully, so far, I haven’t had any major disasters in the kitchen, but I am sure my time will come.

If you could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I just wish sometimes I had a bit more time on my hands, but when you’re a chef a lack of time is just something which you have to put up with.

What is still on life’s list of things to do?

I’d really like to do a sky dive one day.

Can you give us three top tips for

the kitchen?

Firstly, always keep your workspace clean. A messy chef is a struggling one. Secondly, only use the freshest ingredients and you’ll reap the benefits in the quality of the dishes you can prepare. Finally, make sure your kitchen is a friendly environment. After all, you spend most of your time in there.