Gavin Allcock, group head chef of award-winning CD Pub Co, reveals his food heroes and villains, a simple tip for making perfect Yorkshire puddings every time – and why he’s bought a forge!
Tell us about your cooking
Seasonality is really important to me – I like to use fresh ingredients for the fullest flavour. I also like to experiment with new or different ingredients from time to time. There’s no room for complacency in the kitchen so I like to try new ideas when I come across them.
How did you become a chef?
I always struggled at school, whereas cooking seemed to come naturally to me. Not only did I enjoy it, but I was good at it. I trained at Highpeak College which was a really good catering college. From there my passion and skill grew and I haven’t looked back.
What do you eat when at home?
I don’t! As unbelievable as it sounds, I think I’ve used my own kitchen a handful of times. But I love sushi so when I have spare time, I like going out for sushi.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
That’s a tricky one. Can I say Marco Pierre White? Nineties’ Marco to be more specific. He was an innovator. As for the best chef in Birmingham, Glynn Purnell has to be up there.
Is the customer always right?
No, but they think they are! In all seriousness, cooking for someone is a two-way conversation and I want anybody who tastes my food to be happy and enjoy it. I always welcome feedback and try to learn from it.
Share a cooking tip
We’re well into Sunday roast season and Christmas is just around the corner so I’ll share a tip for the perfect Yorkshire puddings. Always add a splash of very cold water to your batter just before you put them into the oven – it’ll make them extra crispy and light. And make sure the oven is turned up as high as it will go.
What was your favourite food as a kid?
It’s a simple dish but holds very happy memories. My dad used to crack an egg into a dish with a bit of butter and some cheese, then bake it. I’d dip fresh bread in and it was bliss.
Food heaven and hell?
Heaven is raw fish and any type of fruit. Not together! Food hell are cauliflower and broccoli.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
I don’t tend to eat anything really unusual, I guess I’m more about traditional flavours and classic dishes done well, when it comes to eating as well as cooking.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else but I’ve just bought a forge to try my hand at metalwork in my spare time. So perhaps I’d be a blacksmith!
What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?
I’d suggest something from the daily specials as I’m all about seasonality. We change these every day depending on the fresh produce we have available.
TRY GAVIN’S PASSION FRUIT CRÈME BRULEE
- 9 egg yolks
- 105g sugar
- 450ml double cream
- 175g passion fruit
This is the perfect dessert if you’re entertaining this Christmas.
Boil the cream and passion fruit puree together in a saucepan. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a separate bowl.
Once combined, pour in the hot cream mix. Keep whisking the eggs and sugar as you add the warm mix to the bowl – this will prevent the eggs from cooking. Once you have combined both mixes, return to the saucepan and cook until the mixture coats the back of your spoon.
Fill six ramekins and bake at 110 degrees C for 15 minutes in a bain-marie. To check that the brulees are ready, gently tap the bain-maries. They should have a firm wobble. If the mix still seems wet, return them to the oven and bake for a little longer.
Once you are happy the brulees are cooked, allow them to cool before dusting each one with muscovado sugar. Heat under a hot grill or with a blowtorch for a caramelised crispy top.
Serve with a shortbread biscuit or tuille – perfect for dunking!