20th November 2013
Tom Kerridge’s pub, the Hand & Flowers, is possibly the most famous in Great Britain. Occupying a pretty roadside cottage on the edge of Marlow, the Buckinghamshire pub has all the feel of a freehouse – flagged floor, low beams, scrubbed tables, local ales – but Tom Kerridge’s big-hearted, resourceful cooking puts the Hand & Flowers firmly in the Good Food Guide 2014 Top 50. We quizzed the chef on British food, cooking and his fellow restaurant industry 'pirates'...
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I really enjoy the alternative social life of being out later than everyone else, and up earlier. I have a strange enjoyment of hard work and spending time with people who are pirates and from the dark side…
…And the least?
What is there not to like?!
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
A huge drive for top quality meat ingredients. The horse meat scandal has helped people realise how expensive top quality farmer- and producer- driven meat is.
Tell us three chefs you admire.
Sat Bains – the most dynamic man I have ever met. Daniel Clifford (Midsummer House) – his passion, motivation and drive are incredible, and Claude Bosi – the most complete cook, with charm and charisma.
Which restaurant best sums up British cooking today?
The Sportsman in Seasalter. Stephen Harris’s food is a true reflection of fantastic local British produce, cooked at an incredibly high standard in an informal setting.
What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Young chefs not going through the training procedures, and taking head chef roles. And for senior chefs, sometimes following a fashion or trend rather than what they believe.
At the end of a long day, what do you like to cook?
No cooking – I’m a big fan of cheese.
What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I’m a big fan of autumn – I love root vegetables and cuts of meat that you have to slow cook.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Water, which is the most underrated and underused ingredient, not just as an ingredient but in terms of cooking techniques. Also salt and butter.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Probably the duck and duck fat chips.
How do you come up with new dishes?
We work closely with suppliers to find out what is available, and we have tiny brainstorming sessions with the other pirate chefs…
Who are the chefs to watch in 2014?
For me, the future is in the safe hands of Paul Ainsworth (No. 6, Padstow) and Jonray and Peter Sanchez-Iglesias (Casamia, Bristol).
What would you be if you weren’t a chef?
I would probably be working in something manual and food related – a fisherman, or perhaps a baker. Or a professional wrestler.
The Hand & Flowers, 126 West Street, Marlow, SL7 2BP
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