The Boot at Repton’s head chef Stuart has trained in several Michelin star restaurants including Simpsons in Birmingham and the Cross, Kenilworth. As the new head chef at The Boot, 37-year-old Stuart is using his classic French cooking techniques to allow the best British ingredients to shine in his dishes at the 17th century coaching inn. ‘The Boot has always had a great reputation for its food, and I’ve enjoyed several good meals here. I’ve always preferred good pubs so, I’m looking forward to bringing what I’ve learned to my home area,’ he says. Here, he shares his food loves.

First dish you learned to cook?

Omelette Arnold Bennett. This is a true classic that I occasionally put on my menus. It was at Marco’s Pierre White’s The Yew Tree Inn. It’s a wet omelette topped with thinly sliced smoked haddock, a sauce made from the smoky skins and hollandaise, finished with good parmesan and grilled until the fish is just cooked and the sauce develops a beautiful golden crust – it’s an incredible dish that requires real skill to perfect.

Most vivid childhood food memory?

Rotisserie chicken sandwiches my nan would make us, they’d be smothered in butter. I also remember a birthday meal at a Harry Ramsden’s, there was a pianist in the middle of the dining room, in a chip shop. It’s a good memory that helps ground me as a chef. Eating out is an experience that food is just a part of.

Most memorable meal out?

Marco Pierre White’s The Yew Tree Inn, in Highclere. After watching the TV programme Great British Feast I had to eat there and, one day, work there. It was my first experience of what I consider proper food, and I’ve never left another restaurant so stuffed.

Favourite ingredient?

There are so many but if I had to choose one it would have to be gulls’ eggs. You won’t see these around very often and they cost an absolute fortune, last time I saw them they were over £8 each!

Your go-to snack?

A proper scotch egg served hot with a runny yolk. We currently have one on our menu using sausage meat made from venison and mustard.

If you weren't a chef what would you be doing?

I always wanted to be a Royal Marines Commando. Before becoming a chef, I was an infantryman in the British Army, unfortunately I was injured shortly after being deployed to Iraq and my military career had to end.

Your dream dinner guest?

Stephen Harris, chef and owner of the Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent. Like myself, a man who came to be a chef a little later in life. His food is so simple yet incredible to eat. He draws inspiration from the old world as I do.

Your guilty food pleasure?

A BIG cheeseboard packed with the best British cheeses - Lincolnshire Poacher, Baron Bigod, Isle of Wight Blue to name a few.

Who are your Derbyshire food and drink heroes?

My knowledge is limited as this is the first time, since my career began, that I’ve worked in Derbyshire. I recently added Dovedale Blue from Hartington Creamery to our cheeseboard – it’s fantastic.

A place you love to eat?

My good friend James Toth is head chef at Tom Brown’s Cornerstone in Hackney, London. The menu is all seafood and, when I ate there, every single dish was executed perfectly.

A career highlight?

Gerard Houllier said my risotto was the best he’d ever eaten, as a young chef and Aston Villa fan, it was a great compliment.

What's next for you and The Boot?

It’s very early days for me here, the focus right now is to build and develop a good team. To teach them the skills and standards I have, that groundwork is vital for any future success.

Your favourite dish?

Quail eggs Maintenon! Not my dish but a true classic that I learned during my time at Marco’s – a band of puff pastry is topped with a fine mushroom duxelles and five soft boiled quail eggs, finished with a rich buttery hollandaise sauce. Its decadent and visually stunning.

Great British Life: Quail eggs Maintenon Quail eggs Maintenon (Image: Stuart Langdell)