Local chefs tell us about their culinary experiences and inspiration

What is your earliest food memory? 

I was about three years old, sitting in a high chair in the kitchen of my parents’ cottage in Dorset, eating spaghetti boulognese my mum had made, with mature cheddar cheese on top. My mum would say: ‘I have raised my children correctly - on strong cheese from an early age.’

How would you describe your approach to food

My approach to food is to treat all food with respect, care and attention and to minimise waste where possible. Also not to overcomplicate dishes with too many elements, and trinkets that don’t add to the dish.

Who's your food hero, a chef who's inspired you?

There are two people responsible for my love of food. The chef would be Keith Floyd. I remember, and still to this day, watch his old programs, where he was not just a cook but  a personality on the screen. He made food interesting and fun, which is how I run my kitchens. 

The second would be my mum. I’m lucky to have a mother who can cook, her talents range from mid-week roasts, to proper apple and blackberry crumbles and much more.

A memorable cooking experience?

I competed in a cooking competition at the age of 15, against older more experienced chefs. Sadly didn’t win! But it opened my eyes to what it takes to cook under pressure, and by the clock. 

I enrolled in the specialised chef scholarship at Bournemouth and Poole college. I then spent six years working at the Ritz hotel under the famous John Williams MBE, learning the ropes in an old school kitchen - it was a case of learn fast, cook perfectly and listen well.  I absolutely loved it!

Your favourite dish on the current menu?

I’m a carnivore first and foremost, allergic to salads, so I’d say it’d have to be the Cote de beouf for two, as you can’t beat a quality dry aged steak cooked to perfection on a grill, served with peppercorn sauce and triple cooked chips. 

A favourite dining spot in Devon?

There are many to choose from, but my go-to place if I’m nearby would be Steak and Sushi in Exeter, failing that I do like Rockfish, you can’t beat fresh fish and a great view. 

What do you love most about Devon?

After spending 10 years in London, working, running around at a mad pace, it’s nice to have a more relaxed lifestyle and steadier pace living in Devon. The beach is beautiful and the locals are all very friendly and the quality of ingredients is hard to beat. 

A down-time/go-to meal you like to cook/eat at home?

Any meal that is made for me is a welcome treat, even if it’s a takeaway. 

If I’m cooking then it’s hard to beat a homemade chicken kyiv, with purple sprouting broccoli cooked in butter, and creamy mash potato.  Or tagliatelle pasta, with a crème fraiche sauce with parmesan and bacon and some courgettes for good measure