Most chefs find their desire at an early age but can you remember the moment that led you down the path into gastronomy?
A beautiful memory. Mine was slightly different! I decided I wanted to be a chef when I was ten and added curry powder into my baked beans. I thought it was amazing. When I was growing up, I used to be influenced by my mother’s cooking and, to this day, I admire the way she catered for a large family. One of my signature dishes is called “Haddock and Eggs”. It contains a poached egg yolk, smoked haddock, cornflakes and curry oil. All elements of my childhood are in that dish from when my mother used to poach haddock and I used to walk around with cornflakes in my pocket.
In Europe alone there are myriad types of edible mushroom. Do you have a favourite either for the restaurant or personally?
Not as such. There are so many different varieties, each with its own season, each with its own characteristics and flavours. There is a huge range and versatility in how they can be used, from clarifying to caramelising, using them in a consommé, as the basis for a stock or in a sauce but they can also shine on their own as the star ingredient. I use mushrooms all year round: morels, ceps, chanterelles, black trumpets and the pied bleu variety. I use them in various ways and try to respect the properties of each of them as best I can by using different techniques.
Do you ever get the chance to go hunting for wild mushrooms?
Mushroom picking is not something I got to do very often growing up on a council estate in Birmingham. These days I do not tend to get a chance to go foraging as I am still based in the city. But I have found a few when I have taken Whoops, my Jack Russell, for a stroll in the woods.
Culinary creativity aside, does the combination of Krug and mush-rooms hold a special significance for you?
Yes! Recently I was lucky enough to be drinking a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée on the hills of Piedmont in Italy during a truffle hunting trip in Alba. It was made even more memorable by having fresh white truffle grated all over my agnolotti!