How a part-time job on a gap year in New Zealand set the tastebuds for a career in food tingling for the head chef at Brockencote Hall, Tim Jenkins
Tell us about your cooking
My style is developing all the time. At the moment I am concentrating on local fresh ingredients and treating the focal ingredient with minimal added flavours so you can taste every ingredient. Guests and critics have said my food is hearty yet refined. At this time of the year it is all about when Harvington asparagus farm will ring to say they are ready. Nothing better than knowing your produce was picked and delivered within an hour of ordering it from 200 metres up the road! It is important to know where the produce you use comes from.
How did you become a chef?
I always enjoyed helping my parents cook at home. On a gap year in New Zealand I took a part-time pot wash job. The chef owner had such a passion for food that I regularly helped him prep on my days off. After retraining part-time as a chef at college in Lancaster, I worked in local pubs before moving closer to home and getting a job at Brockencote Hall. I have been influenced by all my head chefs and sous chefs over the years. Didier Philipot, John Sherry and Adam Brown all taught me different aspects of the job. My partner and I travel to France a lot every year – taking a break gets the mind flowing and thinking and writing down flavour combinations that might work.
What do you eat when at home?
We try to be a bit healthy – pan seared bavette with a blue cheese salad always goes down nicely.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
The best food I’ve tasted here is Brad Carter’s of Carters of Moseley. Worldwide there are still many places on my list to visit and eat at. I like to dine in authentic local little restaurants when I go on holiday. A highlight would definitely be the street food in Thailand.
Is the customer always right?
I’d like to say ‘no’ but the customer is the most important person to us, along with our suppliers, So of course they’re always right in terms of their expectations, however all opinions are subjective to personal tastes.
Share a cooking tip
Follow the recipe and method. Spend a little extra time to do it correctly the first time.
What was your favourite food as a kid?
Fish and chips. Luckily we had a good chip shop just up the road. Mum’s minestrone soup was always welcome in the winter and dad’s spaghetti bolognaise on the weekend was amazing!
Food heaven and food hell?
When we visit friends and family in France the first meal I order is rare bavette of beef. Amazing flavour and always cooked spot on. As for hell, I love offal but a French dish called Andouillette – a sausage made from pig intestines – is just too strong for my liking!
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
My Thai vocabulary is about two words, so the Thai street food I’ve eaten at times could have been anything!
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
I have always loved food and drink but my other passion as a teenager was sport, so if I wasn’t a chef I would have probably combined the two and worked in nutrition.
What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?
Cornish white crab with cucumber, pickled watermelon radish and borage flowers. Followed by rare bavette with ox cheek and bone marrow croquette, heritage potatoes, St George mushroom ketchup and wild garlic. And then banana and peanut butter millefeuille to finish.
Try Tim’s recipe for Banana and peanut butter millefeuille
- 200g smooth peanut butter
- 400g semi whipped double cream
- 200g caster sugar
- 60g water
- 220g egg yolks
- Pinch of salt
Semi whip the cream and leave to one side. Combine the sugar and water in a pan. Start whisking your egg yolks. These should increase in size and turn white. Bring the sugar and water to 115oc and pour over the egg yolks. In another bowl beat the peanut butter until smooth and it has warmed up slightly. Add the semi whipped cream a little at a time to the peanut butter and fold together. When the egg yolks have cooled down, add the peanut butter mousse. Season with a pinch of salt. Pour mix into a container and freeze for at least 4hrs to set.