Inspired in Ingham

The Ingham Swan's head chef, Robert Tragarz

The Ingham Swan's head chef, Robert Tragarz - Credit: Archant

An annual eight-course family feast inspired Ingham Swan head chef Robert Tragarz to embark on a career in cooking

Why did you choose to become a chef?

Ever since I was a little boy, I had a passion for food. I wanted to learn everything and started with the basics by watching my parents at home.

Where did you grow up and where did you train?

I’m Polish but I have learned all my professional cookery skills in England, predominantly in Norfolk. I regularly draw on my past experiences working in Michelin star restaurants in London to create something new and exciting.

What is your earliest food-related memory?

My earliest memory of cooking is being at home and helping to prepare the traditional Christmas Eve dinner, which consists of eight vegetarian courses. There were always plenty of jobs for my brother and me to help out with!

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What is the strangest thing you have eaten?

I love food and trying new ingredients, so nothing is strange, just different.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Becoming the head chef at the Ingham Swan. Other achievements which stand out in my memory are being a finalist in the EDP Norfolk Food and Drink Awards’ Chef of the Year competition in 2013 and 2014.

What do you enjoy most about working at the Ingham Swan?

Working with such a good team, producing excellent food on a daily basis, taking everyday ingredients and transforming them into something delicious.

What would you say is special about your menu?

I believe our menu is special because it changes so regularly. Seasonality and locality both play key roles. Our local farm, owned by the Tacons, makes that very accessible for us. And having the entire kitchen team involved in development helps us create dishes which we know diners will enjoy.

What is your favourite local ingredient?

There are so many fantastic ingredients grown and sourced in Norfolk. However, for me it has to be the Cromer crab. There’s nothing better!

Are there any foods you can’t stand?

Fast food! I do not enjoy food that is made with no passion or care.

Have you had any cooking disasters?

I worked in a very busy restaurant on the north Norfolk coast where one of my tasks was to pre-poach 40 eggs for a busy service. I’d just finished the last egg when every single one fell on the floor. I wasn’t pleased!

What would your last supper consist of?

Duck leg, dauphinoise potato and braised red cabbage.

Do you cook for friends and family too?

Absolutely, whenever I am at home I cook for my wife, and every Christmas Eve I carry on my traditions and cook Polish dishes for my friends and family

The Ingham Swan, Sea Palling Road, Ingham, NR12 9AB; 01692 581099;

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