The head chef at the Kings Hotel in Chipping Camden, Ian Percival talks sunset barbecues on the beach, his love of fish, hatred of coffee, mum’s rissoles – and eating snake!
Tell us about your cooking
I class my cooking as modern British with the occasional Asian influence. New ingredients excite me, as does working out how to use things I haven’t used before. Fresh ingredients are definitely the most important thing in a kitchen and also having access to them through decent, local suppliers.
How did you become a chef?
It was a job I fell into after leaving school. I started working in the industry as a kitchen porter and then a waiter. I thought I would enjoy cooking, so I started an apprenticeship at Camborne College in Cornwall and worked in and around Padstow until I moved to the Cotswolds two years ago. Most of my background is based on using super-fresh seafood. When I worked in Cornwall we’d often get fish, lobsters and crab straight off the boats as they docked in Padstow harbour.
What do you eat when at home?
To be honest, I don’t do a lot of cooking at home as I’m mostly at work. My wife likes learning new recipes and she makes a really mean stroganoff! When I lived in Cornwall, we cooked the first ever bass I caught on a barbecue on Crantock beach as the sun was setting. That was pretty perfect experience…
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
That’s an impossible question to answer because there are so many different chefs that have so many varied styles which are world class, so influence can be taken from all of them. I recently went to Purnell’s in Birmingham for lunch which was fantastic. The cured trout dish was probably the best fish course I’ve ever had.
Is the customer always right?
Haha! That’s a controversial question. Sometimes they are but it really all depends on the situation.
Share a cooking tip
Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you like an ingredient, use it. Another good thing to remember is that the most expensive cuts are not always the best.
What was your favourite food as a kid?
Funnily enough, food wasn’t a major part of my childhood really and we weren’t into eating out. One of my favourites though was rissoles.
Food heaven and food hell?
Heaven is nearly everything fish-related. Hell is anything involving coffee.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
I’d have to say that would probably be snake.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
It’s more than likely that I would have followed in my dad’s footsteps and become a carpenter. I always enjoyed helping him at work when I was a kid.
What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?
I would start with gin and tonic cured salmon, followed by pork belly and cheek accompanied by celeriac, baby turnips from our garden and spiced grains. I’d finish with British strawberries, white chocolate bavarois and mint granita.
IAN’S RECIPE FOR SALMON MI CUIT, CHICORY JAM, CAVIAR, CUCUMBER
- 250g of salt
- 250g of sugar
- 5g of star anise
- 10g of coriander seeds
- 1/2 lemon zest
- 1/2 orange zest
- 1/2 lime zest
- 1 whole side of salmon
- Take the skin off the salmon, trim off any brown bloodline and cut into strips from front to back. Mix all the other ingredients together and cover the salmon with the salt mixture and leave for 35 minutes.
- When the time is up wash the salmon off and dry with a towel. When the salmon is dry either
- vacuum pac the rolls separately or tightly cling film and cook at 41 degrees for 1 hour.
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 5 heads chicory, finely sliced
- 2 oranges, zest and juice
- 150g caster sugar
- 250ml dry white wine
Put all ingredients into a pan and cook on a low heat stirring frequently until the mix has reduced and become sticky like jam, take off the heat and chill
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 litre milk
Cook the cauliflower in the milk until tender, when cooked blend to a smooth puree consistency.
- 100ml white wine
- 100ml white wine vinegar
- 100g sugar
- 2 star anise
- 5 peppercorns
- 1 cucumber
- With a peeler peel the cucumber into ribbons lengthways, put a few ribbons aside to use to wrap the salmon, bring the rest of the ingredients to the boil until the sugar dissolves, take off the heat and chill.
- When the pickling liquor is cold pour it over the cucumber ribbons to pickle.
- Cauliflower puree, Avruga caviar
- Rolled pickled cucumber ribbons
- 2 small quinelles chicory jam
- Sautéed shitake and Shemiji mushrooms
- Salmon wrapped in raw cucumber ribbons