Lee Hollington, the Wolverhampton-born head chef of B:Eats, the new restaurant at Symphony Hall, tells how he was inspired as a child by reading the recipe books of his grandfather who was a chef in the army
Tell us about your cooking
Having grown up in the black country, I used to have a lot of wholesome home cooked meals and that’s what I bring to my menus. Simple, great food with the best quality ingredients. Food that makes you feel warm and happy inside.
How did you become a chef?
I started training in 2001 and I’ve never looked back. I have worked in all sorts of kitchens from pubs to hotels and even in a teepee! My biggest influence is my grandfather who was a chef in the army – as a child I used to read his recipe books and I was fascinated. He is the reason I wanted to be a chef.
What do you eat at home?
My partner and I like eating Asian-inspired food, so a stir fry or rice dish is always a winner.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
I like and respect too many chefs for me to say who the best in the world is! The best in Brum though for me is Brad Carter. His passion for British produce and a mixture of new and classical techniques is top notch.
How is your restaurant adapting to the current crisis?
Opening a new restaurant/cafe during this difficult time does have its hurdles to overcome but it’s all worth it to be able to provide great food in an iconic venue such as Symphony Hall.
Share a cooking tip
My tip is simple. BUTTER! Butter makes everything better!
What was your favourite food as a kid?
Sausage and mash with onion gravy. It doesn’t get better than that on a cold winter evening.
Food heaven and food hell?
Heaven would be a beautifully cooked ribeye steak. Hell would be anything with banana!
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
That would be deep-fried crickets!
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
I’d love to have been a farmer. I do love a flat cap!
LEE’S RECIPE FOR DELICIOUS IRISH SODA BREAD
- 250g plain white flour
- 250g plain wholemeal flour
- 100g porridge oats
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1tsp salt
- 25g butter (cut up into pieces)
- 500ml buttermilk
Preheat oven to 180c, dust a baking sheet with flour, mix all your dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter, add your buttermilk, and mix together quickly. Bring the dough together using your hands and shape it into a flat round loaf.
Place the loaf on to your baking sheet and score a deep cross on the top of the loaf using a knife.
Bake for 35mins or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it.
Leave the loaf to cool and cover with a clean tea towel. This helps to keep the crust soft.
Once cooled, serve with lots and lots of salted butter!