Meet the chef: Tristan Mason
- Credit: Adam Manning
The chef-proprietor of Michelin-starred Restaurant Tristan in Horsham shares his culinary background
What first inspired you to become a chef?
I was a kitchen porter at Brocket Hall, a country house near Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, at weekends while I was at art college and I fell into cooking that way. I loved what was being done there, and as soon as I got an opportunity, I went up to London and worked for Marco Pierre White at what was then the Mirabelle restaurant. I loved it — I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for that role.
Which career achievements are you most proud of?
I think opening Restaurant Tristan was massive, and then obviously, getting the Michelin star there was huge. It was an exciting time when we received that, on top of being a great honour.
Do you have a signature dish?
I love cooking with anything that’s quality and in season — there’s nothing specific. I mean, I do like it when game season comes around because there’s a lot more to play around with, if you like, but if there’s good, seasonal, local produce, I’m happy. Dishes on our summer menu this year have included quail, king prawn, tomato and bee pollen as well as blueberry, peach and popcorn.
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What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
I don’t really cook at home, to be honest, because I’m pretty much cooking all day, every day at the restaurant!
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What’s in your fridge at the moment?
Fresh ingredients: fresh veg, nice cheeses, cured meats... It’s simple stuff when I’m off work — things that can be put together quite quickly, like salad-y things and light dishes.
What is your culinary guilty pleasure?
It’d have to be an Indian takeaway!
Where do you like to go to eat in Sussex if you ever get out of the kitchen?
I like to support local businesses, and I go out to restaurants similar to my own in Sussex. I think it’s really important to eat locally and support the companies we’re surrounded by. In August, Restaurant Tristan participated in the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme — we were delighted to be able to get involved with this initiative.
Favourite Sussex delicacy?
There’s so much, isn’t there? It’s hard to pinpoint anything, but I use a really good butcher in Partridge Green and the meat from there is amazing. In my restaurant, I only use the best-quality produce that I can get my hands on locally.