Tony Tobin talks Pub Food

Related tags Pub chefs Pub food Sausage Chef & brewer

The days of serving up a slice of pork pie and a pickled egg are long gone! And while there is always room in pubs for fish and chips and sausage and...

The days of serving up a slice of pork pie and a pickled egg are long gone! And while there is always room in pubs for fish and chips and sausage and mash if they are done well, the boundaries between restaurant and pub cooking are increasingly blurred.

The Publican's research shows that 80 per cent of pubs offer food of some kind. With that in mind, I'm sure the industry will welcome Pub Food as a forum for ideas and inspiration.

Because I began my career cooking in a pub kitchen at the age of 14, I identify with the needs of pub chefs who have to work quickly to create tasty dishes using fresh, seasonal ingredients.

For the last four years I have been working with Chef & Brewer on the Chef of the Year competition and I've been consistently impressed by the standard of cooking.

The chefs that take part demonstrate there is so much more to pub cooking than scampi in a basket. They have always risen to the challenge with flair and imagination. I'm currently working with Chef & Brewer on a series of chefs' workshops in which we have been looking at ideas and encouraging creativity in the kitchen.

Pub customers are getting more adventurous which is great news for us. But our challenge is to tempt them with unusual ingredients, new twists to old classics and creative ideas. The possibilities are endless and I have encouraged the Chef & Brewer chefs to experiment with spices, fruits, Mediterranean, oriental and Asian influences. They think about colour, flavour, texture and variety when creating their menus because that's what today's customer expects.

We have some of the best chefs in the world in this country and this is because we train our chefs so well. Where pub chefs are concerned, I personally believe that simplicity of technique is key. If we train our chefs to do the basics really well and then give them the confidence to be bold and creative they should have great careers ahead of them.

I welcome The Publican's new Pub Food pages. I'm pleased to see a section devoted to the growing number of pubs which are doing food really well and I'm looking forward to reading about some really innovative pub cooking!

Tony Tobin is consultant chef for Scottish & Newcastle Retail's Chef & Brewer brand. He is a regular guest on the BBC's Ready Steady Cook

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