Everything changed for Luke Tipping after a misspent youth. Today, the executive chef at Michelin-star Simpsons is widely regarded as one of the city’s best. We discuss his inspirations
Did you always want to be a chef?
No is the basic answer. I was brought up in restaurants as my dad was a chef, so we always lived above them. Dad was always working so I had a poor upbringing in that respect, but it gave me a good insight into how restaurants work. It wasn’t until I was 20 that I became interested in cooking. I had a misspent youth after leaving school and in a desperate bid to get me into a proper job, my dad rang around all the restaurants in the area. I ended up working at the Plough and Harrow on the Hagley Road, which was kind of like the Simpson’s of its time.
How would you describe your cooking?
Very natural, very seasonal and free flowing. We buy good ingredients and treat them simply. There’s nothing in the menu that wouldn’t be in season – we like creating natural marriages. We don’t put things together to look good, we put them together because they taste good. We don’t go singing and shouting about ourselves – it’s about quality and it shines through. We’re not the cheapest restaurant in the area but people will always buy quality.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I love the thought of cooking something beautiful and the reaction from customers enjoying what I do. I also enjoy nurturing young talent and bringing through promising young chefs is really what it is all about. It’s very important to me that they are given the opportunity and the right avenues if they have the potential and are good enough.
Which chefs do you admire?
I admire any chef that can hold their own in the kitchen and spend 18 hours a day working. I’d say I admire the profession. Alain Ducasse is obviously legendary and Simon Rogan from L’Enclume is an inspiration. I really love his approach to food, his simplicity on the plate. He’s been successful without losing his true goal whilst training some incredibly talented chefs.
How would you sum up the food scene in Brum?
There’s a wealth of restaurants and eateries in the city and there’s so much diversity on offer, from the Balti to Michelin stars and there’s award-winning street food, too. It’s a great place.
What do you cook for yourself at home?
Very simple stuff. We eat a lot of salad and when the kids were younger, we’d make pizza and lots of pasta. It’s so important with a family to bring them up with a healthy diet full of fresh foods. One of the good sides of the job is that I was able to take them to school, pick them up and have dinner with them.
What is your favourite comfort food?
I do 90 per cent of the cooking at home so I find food comforting when the family like it too. I do a chicken, leek and smoked bacon pie which pleases everyone as it’s enjoyable and comforting.