The head chef at Peel’s at Hampton manor, Rob Palmer celebrates the restaurant winning a Michelin star and talks about nan’s amazing scones and his mission to find the local culinary stars of the future
Tell us about your cooking
I love modern British cuisine, using classic flavours and then incorporating a modern twist. I don’t use any ingredients that people can’t recognise. I want the average Joe to know what it is. I don’t want to put something in front of someone and them have to ask twice what it is. Just as fine dining’s become more relaxed over the last few years so has our cooking. It’s really important to use British and local produce wherever possible but the priority is to use the best ingredients available. We’ve got a number of suppliers that we’ve worked with for years – our meat from Aubrey Allen, all our vegetables are from Birmingham and our fish supplier is second to none.
Describe your perfect meal
I’m a simple guy and although I love great food and visiting other incredible restaurants, for me there’s nothing better than a few beers with something simple and tasty in the local with friends and family.
How did you become a chef?
I used to love baking with my mum and nan. Nan’s scones were amazing! As a teenager I balanced college with an apprenticeship at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole where I found George Outhwaite really inspiring. I joined Hampton Manor six years ago and was lucky to work with Martyn Pearn. Martyn was the chef who influenced me the most. It wasn’t so much his cuisine, but more the robust classicism and disciplines that he taught me. I learned that simplicity didn’t mean simplistic.
What do you eat when at home?
I met my wife at the Metropole where she works as a personal trainer, so food at home is very simple and healthy! Lots of salad, fresh vegetables and roast chicken.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
I love the food scene in New York, it’s really stimulating. We’re so lucky to have an amazing local food scene and I think Glynn Purnell is right up there. The team and I recently went for a meal at the Ledbury which was incredible. Brett Graham, the head chef there, is pretty special.
What’s the best thing about being a chef?
It’s never dull and there’s something new to learn every day. We have a great team which makes life really enjoyable and watching the lads coming through is great. We also work with a lot of apprentices from University College Birmingham and I really enjoying that nurturing aspect and helping teach and develop new techniques.
Is the customer always right?
Of course. Even when they’re not!
Share a cooking tip
Salt. Get the seasoning right.
What was your favourite food as a kid?
I think a roast dinner. Nothing beats your mum’s roast dinner, does it?
Food heaven and hell?
Hell is avocado. In guacamole it’s ok but I can’t stand it on its own, it’s like grease. Heaven is roast chicken, mayonnaise and a baguette. That simple.
What’s the most unusually thing you’ve eaten
We ate unusual, innovative things on the team trip to Faviken in Sweden. The ‘snuff’ was an interesting final course. But these days the things that I’ve eaten wouldn’t be considered that unusual. There’s restaurants out there using live ants and live shrimp… The Wilderness in Dudley, to name but one.
What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?
The mallard dish that Sous Chef Darren’s just put up. We’ve moved into game season again and this mallard, celeriac and salt pear hits the spot.