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Meet the chef: Chris Holland, Culinary Events, Cheshire

Chris Holland <i>(Image: Chris Holland)</i>
Chris Holland (Image: Chris Holland)

Chris has more than 30 years of hospitality experience and awards under his belt working at places including the Alderley Edge Hotel and Sous Vide Tools. Through his career, the 48-year-old has earned three AA Rosettes, competed for the North West on Great British Menu and cooked for many high-profile clients. Now, Frodsham-based Chris, who is committed to using the best, seasonal and local ingredients has launched Culinary Events. Here, he shares his food loves.

Tell us about Culinary Events

Culinary Events is about putting smiles on people’s faces through food – it's a company that can help with all aspects of a special event, party or small family gathering. We’re split into two areas, one of which is private dining and events. We love to work with our customers to produce wonderful and personal menus and also add cultural nostalgia to the experience. Our clients can build their own menus, making the dining experience a very special event.

We do professional consultancy too. Using my widespread experience allows me to help with restaurant consultancy helping clients build menu profiles, kitchen fitouts and everything in between. Over the years I have headed up many new kitchen fitouts and led new kitchen teams through to opening and beyond. This is a real passion of mine and nurturing new talent is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

First dish you learned to cook?

A coconut cake in my grandma’s kitchen – watching her cook was a massive childhood memory for me. Her cakes were stunning and she never weighed out a single ingredient. It was all done to taste, eye and feel. The first thing I learned to cook properly as a child would have been a full English breakfast. I used to love helping to cook this on a Sunday morning and, to this day, it’s still a favourite.

Most memorable meal out?

I’ve been lucky enough to eat in some of the world’s finest restaurants, including El Bulli in Spain. At the time, El Bulli was number one in the world. As a classically trained chef, I had never seen the creativity and use of ingredients, along with sublime service in the most beautiful scenery. This meal changed everything I thought about food and ingredients and led me onto a path of technical recipes allowing the flavours to come to the fore.

Another is Alinea in Chicago. This restaurant was so creative and magical – a mind-blowing experience from start to finish. The theatrical service style was sensational and the playful creativity in the fooCheesed, along with exceptional flavours, really were superb.

Favourite ingredient?

Anything pork. I love this ingredient so much as it’s so adaptable and complex and a great carrier of flavour. It has crackling, so what more do you need?

Your go-to snack?

I have phases on this but great cheeses after a meal have to be my guilty pleasure, along with some good cheese on toast for a quick snack.

If you weren't running Culinary Events, what would you be doing?

Well hopefully retired. Culinary Events is me giving back to an industry I’ve loved for many years. This really gives me fulfilment and happiness. I’ve always wanted to be a company owner so I’m living my dream.

Most vivid childhood food memory?

Definitely cheese on toast. I used to have it after swimming lessons as a child served on thick white toast. It’s always been my favourite.

Your dream dinner guest?

David Beckham. I’ve had an obsession with Manchester United and been lucky enough to cook for them regularly. David has built a successful empire around him that is a very inspiring story, and he seems like a chilled and funny guy.

Other than that, my beautiful wife, who inspires me every second. Spending time together over dinner is my favourite thing.

Your guilty food pleasure?

Probably crisps. I can easily polish off a few bags with the addition of some sliced cheddar.

Who are your Cheshire food and drink heroes?

I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot including Peter Papprill, also known as The Cheese Detective. Ollie’s Orchard Pressed Apple Juice is always a favourite and W H Frost (Butchers) Ltd – they provide the very best Cheshire meats through their widespread network of artisanal farmers across Cheshire.

A career highlight?

Receiving the 3 AA Rosettes was the highlight as the team at the time was superb. To then watch all their paths turn into hospitality careers is very rewarding.

What's next for you and Culinary Events?

Just putting a smile on people’s faces through my food. As always, my most important business practice is putting our clients at the very top of my thinking.

What wish do you have for 2024?

To continue to keep living my dream; building a client base and working with top industry people; having fun, being happy and being healthy.

Chris’s favourite dish

‘It has to be pork belly,’ says Chris. ‘I’ve experimented for many years with this ingredient and served it in all sorts of ways. From a simple starter to a more elaborate main course, and of course, just roasted for a perfect Sunday meal. My favourite was a mock apple created with apple sugar, roasted Bramley apple and sage – classic flavours served in a minimalistic way using strong technique and execution. My best plate, I guess some would say.’



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