When I first realised I wanted to be a chef
I always wanted to find a job that was both exciting and exhilarating, but also something where you can really express yourself. After watching one of Gordon’s episodes of Boiling Point I was hooked and set out to find my way in to the cooking scene.
Why I joined the pub trade
Apart from being a huge fan of pubs in general, during my time at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay I was always curious about what made a ‘Michelin star pub’. One Christmas my mum presented me with Andrew Perns 'black pudding & foie gras' cookbook which started my initial attraction to the pub world.
I made my way up to North Yorkshire, to the Star Inn and from the get go I fell in love with the whole package! Great ales, fantastic produce straight off the Yorkshire Moors and amazing service which, combined, made me even more determined to want to open my own pub one day.
My personal cooking style
I would describe my cooking style as being traditionally British influenced but using French cooking techniques which I developed while training under Clare Smyth (outgoing Restaurant Gordon Ramsay chef-patron).
The ingredients that I am most passionate about and which excites me the most has to be game, being firstly introduced to this at the Star Inn where shooting parties would bring back their day's shoot for us to cook. Learning to prepare and cook game developed a huge obsession with these wild animals.
Plans for the Oxford Blue
Quite simply to become a successful business with a strong following of regular happy guests.
Why top chefs are choosing pubs over restaurants
My thoughts on this, which I say to everyone who asks me, is that in France they are renowned for their Brasserie's, in Italy their Trattoria's and Spain their tapas bars. England on the other hand is renowned for its pubs and I feel this is something that should be promoted. The difference between a pub and a restaurant is that a pub is somewhere that I feel has the ability to adapt to every occasion. That may be a casual drink with friends or a romantic meal with your other half. Why wouldn’t you want to go to one of these places?
My biggest inspiration
There’s only one - Marco Pierre White.
My essential kitchen kit
A frying pan, a quality stove and good set of knifes. When I entered Young Chef of the Year lots of chefs were bringing all kinds of modern equipment, but Claire always told me all you need is a pan and a good set of knifes.
Biggest crimes against pub food
I don’t think there is a specific crime a chef can commit against any food as long as they are putting their heart into it.
Desert island pub dish
The best thing I've eaten recently
A sample of cultured butter that we received from a young supplier in Oxfordshire. It was amazing.
Who I'd most like to cook for
Without any question my late gran. Having supported me 110% during my training I always told her that one day I would have my own place and she would be able to sample my cooking. I would cook her my rabbit pie as it is something that we could both relate to.
The Oxford Blue is set to open in late May.