His eponymously titled restaurant is one of just three in Birmingham to hold a Michelin star. Richard tells us about food, cooking, family life and how he would’ve liked to have been a rock star
Tell me about your cooking
Our cooking style is very much based around the seasons, this is very important to me along with flavour. I like our dishes to wow you with taste. The produce is king.
Describe your perfect meal
My perfect meal would be with my wife, family and friends. I feel that I have reached a point where I am looking for the whole experience, good food, wine and company.
How did you become a chef?
I am largely self taught. I started working in kitchens at 15 in the pot wash and then started a youth training scheme. I went to college one day a week, but found that I could learn more in the kitchen at work. There are lots of people that have influenced me over the years – too many to mention. I feel it’s important that as a chef you try and absorb as much as possible, I’m still learning now. My family has always been there for me and you need that as you work long hours in this industry. You get out what you put in.
What do you eat when at home?
Anything my wife cooks, sorry reheats. I am partial to a good Sunday lunch.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
Well if you believe the press it’s the Roca brothers at El Celler de Can Roca. There are lots of brilliant chefs around the world at the moment and we are very lucky that in this country we have some of the best – Sat Bains, Phillip Howard, Brett Graham the list goes on. The best in Brum? How can I answer that without getting lynched. Birmingham’s food scene is getting stronger by the year, we are all doing our bit and long may this continue.
Is the customer always right?
The customer is king and alongside me they’re always right.
What’s the best thing about being a chef?
The glamour, the lifestyle, fast cars and beautiful women!
What’s the worst thing about being a chef?
Everybody is going to expect the answer to that question to be the long hours, bad pay etc. This is my career, vocation whatever you want to call it. There are ups and downs, but it’s a way of life and something that I feel very proud of.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
A rock star.
What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?
All of it!
Richards Recipe for SMOKED VEAL TONGUE, GREMOLATA, ONIONS AND HERBS
- 1 veal tongue
- 500g mirepoix vegetables
- 2 litres water
- 200g baby onions
- 50g butter
- 300ml white chicken stock
- 100g flat parsley
- 50g tarragon
- 35g mint
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 100ml olive oil
- 1 banana shallot
- 20g hairy bitter cress
- 20g wild watercress
- 20g hedge sorrell
Brine the veal tongue in a 10 per cent solution for 2 hours. Wash and cook in seasoned water with the vegetables until tender. Peel the outer skin off the tongue and cold smoke for 1 hour. Roll tightly in cling film and refrigerate. Peel the onions and cook in emulsion. Remove the layers from half off them and cut the other half into nice rounds. Blend all the herbs, lemon and oil together, season and reserve for later. Slice the shallot into small rings and store in a pickle. Slice the veal tongue and pan fry until crispy, cover with the gremolata and grill for 1 minute. Chat the onion rounds and reheat the onion shells in the cooking liquid. Serve with the pickled shallot and the freshly picked herbs. Box-out: