The executive chef at Simpson’s, moved into cookery after a misspent youth. He’s now 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. I didn’t know what I was going into.
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.
What do you think of the rise of the celebrity chef?
It’s a great tool for showcasing restaurants. When I started 25 years ago, you went to fine dining restaurants for special occasions, but now it’s like the new form of shopping.
How can you persuade people to eat out at the moment?
We don’t go singing and shouting about ourselves – it’s about quality and it shines through. We’re certainly not the cheapest restaurant in the area but people will always buy quality.
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.
What do you cook for yourself at home?
Very simple stuff. We eat a lot of salad as I have an eight-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son. We make pizza and lots of pasta and we all sit around the table in an afternoon to eat. I want to bring them up with a healthy diet full of fresh foods. One of the good sides of the job is that I can 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.
Do you eat out locally?
Yes I enjoy more ethnic food such as Indian and Chinese at Lasan’s or Asha’s with the kids. When I eat out, unless we’re with friends, it’s child oriented. We went to Carter’s in Moseley recently and that was nice – Brad is a really passionate young chef.