Interviews

Samuel Buckley, Where the Light Gets In

We get the lowdown on Sam Buckley's Stockport restaurant, Where The Light Gets In.

People have described the location of WTLGI ‘unexpected’, what made you pick this location in particular?
Because of the actual space of the site itself, but also because we wanted to make a destination restaurant. It had to be in an unlikely location that was almost an adventure to get to.

WTLGI is completely open-plan, including the kitchen. Why did you choose to do it this way?
We have a philosophy of transparency about the food system and the hospitality industry today; we want to be completely open about how we work and the restaurant reflects this. It forces us to be calm and collected and shows we have no boundaries between the front of house and back of house as we are all one team and we all work together in the same direction. It means we can talk to our guests and gives them an insight, and maybe a bit of education about where we source our food. It means the restaurant has both a personal and theatrical approach.

What sort of food can diners expect at WTLGI?
We don’t even know ourselves until the night…

What were your reasons behind serving up a ‘no-choice’ menu?
Because we allow the produce to control everything, we’re led by what we get. We have no choice in what we cook so the diner has no choice in what they are served. Also, there are so many restaurants out there allowing so much choice that freedom from making any decisions is actually relaxing. We give you freedom from choice – you don’t have to read a menu, you can speak to your friends and put your night in our hands.

What’s the most exciting dish you’ve served up recently?
We’ve been using a lot of by-products. We’ve just started using some of the paste that’s left over from making our nettle oil by fermenting it and serving it with hake along with peaches that also appear in our dessert. We like to repeat ingredients to give an indication of what is coming up in our menu.

What is the most unusual cooking/preparation technique you use?
We do a lot of preservation. A new technique we’ve found is reducing in an extreme way. We’ve reduced 40 litres of whey down into 1 litre, into a treacle-like consistency. We made it into a tart to serve as a petit fours.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Autumn. It’s when you first open jars you’ve been preserving over the summer. It's also the time all the nuts, berries, the root crops start coming out and the smell of the forest is particularly special. It’s when the heat and the cold meet in the middle and you get all these smells from the forest floor.

What inspired you to become a chef?
The folly of youth

If you could cook for anyone (past or present) who would it be, and what would you cook for them?
My beautiful girlfriend; a big plate of cheese.

And finally… tell us something about yourselves that will surprise your diners.
The last time our building was used was for a wedding reception in 1949