Chef Heroes - Culinary Inspirations that have influenced pub kitchens

By Mark Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Chef gordon ramsay Gordon ramsay

In our food survey we asked chef's about their biggest culinary inspiration. Here is the top 10 replies that have helped influenced pub kitchens. Mark Taylor reports

In our food survey we asked chef's about their biggest culinary inspiration.

Here are the top 10 replies that have helped influenced pub kitchens. Mark Taylor reports

1 - Gordon Ramsay

With his global restaurant empire, controversial TV shows and countless magazine appearances, omnipresent super chef Gordon Ramsay is undoubtedly the biggest name in British cooking at the moment. Big, brash and seriously talented, Ramsay's cooking prowess is matched only by his notorious temper.

After retiring from professional football due to injury, Ramsay was determined to succeed in another field and after catering college, he worked under the best names in the business - Marco Pierre White, Albert Roux, Guy Savoy and Joel Robuchon. He went on to co-own London restaurant Aubergine and then set up his own eponymous restaurant in Chelsea, which earned him three Michelin stars.

Classically-trained, Ramsay's cooking is deceptively simple and big on flavour. His explosive, expletive-filled TV series Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen may have made for uncomfortable viewing, but his cookery skills, perfectionism and management skills have won him an army of admirers in the catering trade.

Tony Budde of the Unicorn Inn, Kincardine, Scotland, is a long-time admirer of Ramsay. He says: "I'm not surprised he has inspired so many chefs. I can relate to everything he's trying to do. His style of management is what some young chefs need because it keeps them on their toes. He's a good kitchen manager and people may see him on TV shouting at everybody but he manages people and brings them through. I've eaten his food and it was very good indeed. I've got all of his books and we use some of the recipes on our menu.

"We've got one of the lamb dishes with the parsnip purée on the menu at the moment and it's a big seller."

2 - You

You are a modest lot. A large proportion of you say - "it is all in your head" when it comes to inspiration for your menu and that you inspire yourself.

3- Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver has packed more into his 29 years than most chefs do in a lifetime. The Naked Chef was brought up surrounded by good food in his parents' Essex pub, where he helped in the kitchen from the age of eight. After a spell at fashionable London restaurant River Café, Oliver became an overnight celebrity chef thanks to his best-selling books and TV series.

His simple Italian influenced dishes and relaxed approach to cookery is matched by his passion for good produce. His commitment to championing fresh talent was proven with the opening of his not-for-profit restaurant, Fifteen, where he trained young unemployed people to be chefs. He is urrently waging war on junk food served on school dinner menus.

4- Eating out

Many of you cited eating out, when you get the time, as a big source of inspiration for your menu and will incorporate dishes you have seen on other menus into new ones for your own.

Also walking around Marks & Spencer on a Monday was said by some to inspire them with new ideas.

5 - Rick Stein

His name may be synonymous with fish and seafood, but Oxford University-educated Rick Stein has become an ambassador for small producers in Britain with his Food Heroes TV series. Stein actually started his career running a nightclub and disco in Padstow, but since then he has put the Cornish fishing village - christened "Padstein" by the locals - on the map with his award-winning seafood restaurant, deli, café and, most recently, a fish and chip shop.

Although a serious restaurant chef, Stein's style appeals to home cooks as much as it does to pub chefs because the food is simple, not especially "cheffy" and also because he makes good local produce the main focal point. His latest television series sees him travelling around France by boat.

6 - Gary Rhodes

Although still one of the most popular celebrity chefs, these days Gary Rhodes spends as much time in the kitchen of his restaurant as he does in front of the TV cameras.

This was acknowledged when Rhodes Twenty Four was awarded a Michelin star earlier this year.

Rhodes is no stranger to Michelin stars, having won one at the Castle Hotel in Taunton and the Greenhouse in Mayfair before his TV career kicked off. The spiky-haired chef is widely regarded as the architect of the modern British food template and it's pretty fair to say that pub and restaurant menus today would be a very different place had it not been for his reinvention of classic British dishes such as shepherd's pie and bread and butter pudding.

7 - Mum

The inclusion of "mum" in our poll of people who have been culinary inspirations proves that more pub chefs are tied to their mother's apron strings than we first thought. A quick look at gastro pub menus up and down the land will reveal the canon of home-cooked comfort food classics - macaroni cheese, fish pie, Lancashire hot pot, spotted dick and custard - all of them dishes that have been handed down from generation to generation. As a nation, we love nursery food because it makes us nostalgic for those home-cooked moments.

8 - Antony Worrall Thompson

Described by Delia Smith as "dreadful, just repulsive" and Gordon Ramsay as "the squashed Bee Gee", Antony Worrall Thompson certainly divides opinion among his fellow celebrity chefs. The bearded chef studied hotel and catering management at Westminster College before working in restaurants in Essex and London.

He has been running restaurants of his own for the past 25 years, but he is probably best known for his TV work, including Ready Steady Cook, Food And Drink and Saturday Kitchen. Wozza is passionate about organic produce and grows vegetables for his London restaurant. He is also the co-owner of the Angel at Heytesbury, a Wiltshire gastro pub, making him the only celebrity chef in our poll to be actively involved in the pub industry.

9 - Delia Smith

The first celebrity cook to be universally known by just her first name, Delia has been a household name for three decades. From her debut BBC1 cookery show in the early '70s to her successful How To Cook series and books in the '90s, the former trainee hairdresser is a byword for basic home cooking and sound kitchen practices.

Now devoting more time to supporting her beloved Norwich City than making cookery programmes, the iconic Delia is a true British food institution and forms the missing link between Marguerite Patten and Nigella Lawson. If it wasn't for Delia, who would have taught us how to boil an egg, how to make the perfect omelette or sent sales of Maldon sea salt soaring?

10 - Cookery books

It is not a person but recipe books that inspire many of you. Many of you keep a collection of books at your pub and use them to blend with your own ideas for new menu dishes.

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