Interviews

Dave Wall, The Unruly Pig

We talk to the chef of The Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, Suffolk

What inspired you to become a chef?
I spent my late teens and early twenties travelling the world and worked in kitchens to fund the beers and the good times. I always enjoyed the buzz and one day, during a brief moment of respite in a busy service, I looked out of the window from the top of Whistler Mountain in Canada and it just clicked that there was no way I was going to spend the rest of my days in an office.

What would you be doing if you weren't a chef?
Without doubt something in the food industry. I can't see me ever wanting to give up the thrill of restaurant life. But if I did, I would want to be creating a product that I was proud of; perhaps be an artisan butcher with a smokehouse creating charcuterie.

At the end of a long day, what do you like to cook?
To be honest, at the end of a long, hard day, the first thing I'll pull out of the fridge is a cold beer. But if I am in the mood for eating it's usually because I'm shattered so a good gorge on carbs is always nice; leftover dauphinoise is deeply satisfying.

What's your favourite junk food?
You can't beat a good curry - biryani is my favourite.

What food could you not live without?
Eggs, I love them! I have a minimum of four for brekkie everyday, and love them cooked in every way possible. On top of that they're a huge unsung hero in the kitchen, used in so many sauces, dressings and pastry recipes. Without them the restaurant repertoire would be slashed.

What is the vital ingredient for a successful kitchen?
Enthusiasm. Days are long and the toil is tough, but somewhere you need this internal enthusiasm to fuel the passion, and the drive required to keep pushing on every day.

What’s your favourite dish on your menu?
I love our braised rabbit ravioli with pancetta and porcini velouté. It embodies what I love in a good dish: perfectly cooked elements brought together and presented simply with the main emphasis on flavour.

How do you start developing a new recipe?
First port of call is doing the shopping. I love talking to suppliers about what's coming in that's great quality and a good buy. I always try to follow the seasons and use ingredients at their best. Nature has a great instinct for providing us with ingredients that marry together beautifully.

What is the most unusual cooking or preparation technique you use?
I have a unique technique for making liver parfait but I couldn't possibly reveal the method!

If you could cook for anyone (past or present) who would it be, and what would you cook for them?
Winston Churchill, because he was a larger than life character who I admired hugely, and not just for what he did for the country during World War II. He was a real foodie who appreciated great wine as well as one of my favourite tipples, gin. He would have been great fun to cook for and I'm sure he would have loved a great French classic.

Who is the most interesting person you have cooked for?
I've been lucky enough to cook for many famous people, but I'll never forget being a commis chef aiding a banquet for the Prince of Brunei. Things were being flown in from all over the world and it's fair to say I had no idea what 75% of the ingredients were.

What is the strangest request you have had from a diner?
We get a fair few odd ones, but the customer who wanted ketchup for their risotto certainly baffled me. What would the Italians think?

Which chef do you most admire at the moment?
I love Phil Howard – pure cooking style with so much elegance. I was lucky enough to spend a few days at The Square gaining experience, and was blown away by the way they cook in there –  it's amazing.

Do you have a favourite restaurant?
Le Talbooth in Dedham. I spent four years working there and have eaten there many times. It's a very special place to me.

Tell us something about yourself that will surprise your diners
I'm not really much of a foodie and get irritated by so many modern cooking fads and techniques.