‘Whilst I was growing up in rural Yorkshire, on a largely self-sufficient small-holding, my parents (when they had time to cook) would usually draw on their preference for Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian cuisine. Both had spent time during the 70’s working in hospitals in West Yorkshire. As such, most of their friends and colleagues were folk whose parents or grandparents had come over to work in the mills that once dominated the area. I grew up addicted to chappatis and naga chilli. But I also had access to heritage breeds of pig, sheep, cow, poultry and occasionally more exotic animals such as rheas, golden pheasants and whatever eccentric animals had taken my fathers’ fancy at the time.
My Dad built a Greek bread oven and smoker in the garden where many a creature was smoked, cooked, and appreciated. Field to table was a daily, privileged reality, not an advertising slogan.
‘I fell into professional cooking when I moved to Edinburgh, taking a job in a cafe to fill in whilst I pursued an (unsuccessful!) career as a mural artist. I ended up working there with a chef who was on maternity ‘leave’ who had been in the kitchens of Ramsay in London. From there I just kept looking for places to learn more, working in bakeries, outside caterers, Michelin restaurants, butchers and hunting lodges.
‘My influences come from so many sources. Most importantly those early stages of first mentors in Cat who made me appreciate vegetables and the never ending potential of salads. Then Hubert who patiently walked me through viennoiserie. Later, I sought out more experience from chefs who caught my eye such as Simon Rogan, Esben Holmboe-Bang, Even Ramsvik. Inevitably the shadow of Heston Blumenthal was influencing most people in professional kitchens all over Europe at this time. But it was also the bakers, gardeners, farmers, or home cooks who inspired me. Especially those mums struggling to making ends meet but cooking with a refusal to compromise on their morals.