The no-nonsense head chef at Craft, Andrew Sheridan talks us through his food ethos and plans for the restaurant in the ‘new normal’
Tell us about your cooking
I cook food I grew up with and love to eat. Good honest food done really well. There aren’t too many ingredients – I’m beyond the stage of using 300 ingredients just for the sake of it.
How did you become a chef?
I was 17 and getting drunk and generally being stupid and my mum and dad got me a job working all hours in the local pub so I didn’t have time to misbehave. I used to watch Ready, Steady, Cook and get inspired. I moved to work under Michael Caines and seriously worked my arse off.
What do you eat when at home?
I love to eat healthily. Thai stir fry, Moroccan-inspired food, good old cottage pie. I like sticking big pots in the middle of a table and everyone dives in.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
With something like 12 Michelin stars it’s got to be Thomas Keller. The best in Brum is a tough one. Birmingham’s so diverse. How do you compare Aktar Islam’s cooking with Glynn Purnell’s for example? They’re so different.
Is the customer always right?
If someone has dietary requirements we’ll happily accommodate those, but if Doris comes in without any prior notice asking for a seven-course vegan tasting menu or a cheese and ham omelette that isn’t on the menu, then no.
Share a cooking tip
Put unpeeled garlic cloves between two metal bowls and shake around. The skin just slips right off. In the restaurant where we might need 50 cloves at a time it’s great but it works just as well at home with two or three cloves.
What was your favourite food as a kid?
M&S crispy chicken breasts with sweet and sour sauce and rice. Also my mum’s Sunday roast.
Food heaven and food hell?
Heaven is a Five Guys burger – double bacon, cheese, onion, mustard mayo with cajun fries. Hell is a bowl of cockles or similar.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
Ants. They were minging.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
A fitness instructor and nutritionist. I’ve always been big into keeping fit but during lockdown I’ve really focused on it. I’ve lost two stone and feel great.
How has the restaurant responded to lockdown and what will change for the future?
We’re lucky to be based in the ICC which has introduced reduced rent, plus we’ve benefitted from the furlough scheme so managed to retain staff. We’ve approached it positively and made a few changes to the restaurant. Rather than opening seven days a week we’ll be opening for four. We’ve also introduced a takeaway service. There’s a fantastic chicken pie with ham hock, leeks and we make our own puff pastry, followed by a Bakewell tart.