The Head chef and the man behind the menu at The Forest at Feckenham says there’s nothing quite like his grandma’s ‘awesome’ mince and onion pie
Tell us about your cooking
I like to think I am fairly classic with my style of cooking. I’m a really big fan of British and French classics but I do like to add my own twists to them.
Describe your perfect meal
A nice dry aged sirloin of beef with a simple rocket and parmesan salad and a few fries. All washed down with a bottle of Argentinian Malbec while sat on a terrace overlooking a mountain range.
How did you become a chef?
The industry first caught my eye when as a 14-year-old I got my first job pot-washing in the local pub. That led to getting my qualifications at Stratford-upon-Avon College. With my family hailing from the north of England, I was influenced a lot by hearty meals, like pies and puddings. My grandma used to make the most awesome mince and onion pie with lashings of gravy. Nothing quite like it and the rest of the family daren’t try as we know we’d fall short.
What do you eat when at home?
It’s hard as a chef to sometimes find the will to cook at home but when I do usually it will be a pasta or noodle dish – something quick and easy but still containing plenty of fresh ingredients.
Who’s the best chef in the world and who’s the best in Brum?
I’m a big fan of what Gordon Ramsey has done in the past 15 years. And American chef Thomas Keller should still be considered to be one of the best in the world, too. His French Laundry Book is inspiring stuff. In the local area, there’s the likes of Glynn Purnell.
What’s the best thing about being a chef?
The buzz, energy and camaraderie of a professional kitchen is amazing. Having the influences and backing of a great team to be creative in the kitchen as well as the resources and fantastic ingredients at my fingertips.
What’s the worst thing about being a chef?
Missing those impromptu nights out with friends not in the industry – and not getting the two-week break at Christmas.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
To be honest, no idea. Before I started as a kitchen porter I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do in life. It was only then that I knew I wanted to be a chef, and I’ve not looked back since!
What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?
One of our Aubrey Allen dry aged steaks, washed down with a bottle of Terrazas Malbec.
Recipe: Mussel, chorizo and butter mariniere
Ingredients: Serves 2
- 1kg of live mussels, cleaned with beards removed
- 1 banana shallot finely diced
- 4 cloves of garlic crushed and chopped
- 200g raw cooking chorizo (cut into small dice)
- 1 can of butter beans, drained and washed
- 400ml white wine
- 400ml double cream
- A handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
Method: Put a heavy based saucepan on a high heat for two minutes. Fry the chorizo in a little oil for 30 seconds. Then add the mussels, shallot, garlic and wine all at once. Cover the pan immediately. Once the mussel shells have opened add the cream and beans and leave on heat until the cream has boiled. Take off the heat, add the parsley and check the seasoning giving the pan a good stir. Serve the mussels immediately with a warm baguette – or to make a full meal serve with some nice crisp French fries.