Category Archives for Chef Interviews

Chef Interviews – Darren Watson

Darren Watson Chef - Read the chef interview of Darren Watson. Find out what got him interested in becoming a chef - http://amateurchef.wpengine.comDarren Watson has been more than happy to give some of his time and a I really appreciate him taking part in this Chef Interviews. I could really tell that Darren has a real passion for food as well as the overall food industry. Looking at some of the dishes that Darren creates, you can really see he has an eye for detail. The styling on the plate is incredible and can imagine just how popular his food would be with his guests.

Its also nice to think that if he did decide to stop being a chef, we could rely on him to lead the planet 😉

When Did You First Have An Interest Cooking?

It Was Not Until About 8 Years Into Being A Chef. I Didn’t Enjoy The First Eight Years So Much Because Kitchens Were Different Places From What They Are Now. And It Took Me That Long To Feel Comfortable In My Skills And Techniques. I Only Became A Chef Due To Me Getting Kicked Out Of School And My Next Door Neighbor Was A Head Chef. He Heard My Mum Telling Me I Had To Do Something Quick Or I Was In Hot Water So To Speak. He Offered Me A Job And Sent Me To College To Do My Apprenticeship Or NVQ Qualification.

How Long Have You Been Cooking Professionally?


23 years

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?

From Everywhere But I Have Menus To Write For 11 F&B Outlets At The Caravelle So When I Get Any Ideas They Are Logged Straight Away Because I Will Use Them At Some Point. Most Of My Inspiration Comes From Seeing Product Whether It’s At A Food Market Or Samples That Suppliers Bring Me. Depending On The Restaurant Depends How Often We Change The Menu.

The Fine Dining Restaurant We Change Every Month
Tapas Every 3 Months
Room Service 1 Time per Year
Champagne Lounge 3 Times per Year
Our Bar 1 Time per Year
Buffet Restaurant on 6 Week Rotation of Dishes. No Same Dish Served For 6 Week Period
Our Coffee Shop 2 Times Per Year
Spa We Take From Room Service Menu So Doesn’t Really Count
Our Lounge 1 Time Per Year
Pool Bar Taken From Room Service
Casino Once Per Year
Also Have BQ Facilities For 1200 Sitting Down

If You Was Not A Chef, What Would You Want To Do?

I Really Have No Idea What Else I Would Want To Do. I Live And Breathe Being A Chef. It Takes Up 17 Hours Of My Time Per Day. Maybe The Leader Of The Free World. If Hilary Or Donald Can Get The Job, How Much More Could I Screw Up The Planet Than One Of Them Two 😉

Check out these incredible dishes from Darren Watson - http://amateurchef.wpengine.comHow Would You Describe Your Cooking Style?

Modern, Pleasing To The Eye, Light, Fresh, Quirky, Well Thought Out And Creative…

What Course Do You Prefer To Cook?

I Enjoy Creating Desserts I Feel I Can Put Some Humour Into Desserts Which You Can’t With Starters Or Mains. I Enjoy Creating All Dishes Really So Doesn’t Really Matter If Starter, Main Or Dessert

What Is Your Favorite Dish/Signature Dish to Make?

Changes All The Time…I Guess Dishes That Are Designed Around A Memory That In My Head Captures A Time, Place And Feeling

What Ingredient Do You Love To Cook With The Most?

Any As Long As Its In A Perfect State It Can Be Anything From A Perfect Piece Of Seafood, Nice Marbled Beef, A Vegetable I Love All Ingredients And Try And Treat Them All With The Same Respect.

What is Your Favorite Dish To Eat?

Anything That Involves Sharing But I Am Also Partial To A Curry That My Chefs In Room Service Make Me Quite Often For Dinner.

Which Other Chefs Inspire You?

Too Many To Mention. Ryan Clift In Singapore, Andréé Chiang In Singapore Are Two That Spring To Mind Only Because They Are Close By. The Old Cook Who Make Banh Mi On The Street Corner Is An Inspiration…I Could Go On And On All Day. Basically Anyone That Cares And Wants To Make You Happy.

Any Advice You Would Give To People Wanting To Become A Chef?

If You’re Not Willing To Sacrifice Everything For Your Craft You Will Never Succeed In This Industry And It Will Not Be Easy Making It To The Top And Getting Respect From Your Peers. Also I Get Inspired By The 140 Chefs I Work With At The Caravelle.

Anything You Would Like To Share, IE New Book? Development At Restaurant etc?

Keep Following Me To Find Out…Maybe Big Changes Coming Soon 🙂

Again I would really like to thank Darren for taking part in the interview, I really do appreciate it.

Please do follow Darren on all of the social media channels to keep up to date with his activities!

Twitter: @Saigonchef2016

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReflectionsRestaurant

Website: http://www.caravellehotel.com/

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Tony Rodd MasterChef 2015 Finalist Interview

Tony Rodd MasterChef 2015 Finalist Interview

Tony Rodd - MasterChef 2015 Finalist, read the full interview - http://amateurchef.wpengine.comI first saw Tony Rodd on MasterChef and first time I saw the desserts he produced, you could tell he was a very good chef! Greg Wallace named him “The Master Chocolatier” and you can see why!

Tony is an inspiration to me as he is someone that came from a non professional chef but plates his dishes with delicate presentation, making them look incredible.

He follows the chefs that plate dishes to his liking and also buys cook books that show high quality images, it then naturally took him a lot of practice. After plenty of practice he then took the next step which is finding your own style and testing different dishes.


I can only imagine the amount of work Tony put in during the show but by the looks of it he is putting even more work into after the show. He has set up his own private catering business, where he will cook private dinners for his client.

When Did You First Have An Interest Cooking?

Eating was always my first passion. I grew up in a family where big meals were about bringing people together. I realised in my late teens that if I wanted to keep eating good food I’d better learn to cook. Cooking became a pastime, how I’d relax after work, and a way to spend my time with friends and family.

How Long Have You Been Cooking Professionally?

I started cooking professionally a year ago, after the finals of MasterChef. I had been receiving various offers and decided to explore these further. A year on and I haven’t stopped. I’ve been cooking private dinners, supper clubs and corporate parties.

Tony Rodd Chef Interview - Check out the complete interview and see what got him into cooking - improvemystyle.co.uk

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?

I look to classic recipes for inspiration. I like to take flavour combinations that are tried and tested and play with texture, presentation and technique to create a new dish. I also read cook books from world class chefs such as Michel Roux Junior, the team at Eleven Madison Park and many of the Scandinavian restaurants that are taking the culinary world by storm.

What Was Your Best Bit of MasterChef?

The whole experience was fantastic but there were two highlights that really stand out for me. Our team challenge, cooking for the Red Arrows was brilliant as I worked with the other contestants and we did a great job. I was so proud of the food we produced especially considering the conditions. Stockholm was without doubt the other highlight. Working with Anton and Jakob at Gastrologic really opened my eyes to how chefs approach produce and create menus. It was an amazing experience.

Tony Rodd Well Dressed Plate example - http://amateurchef.wpengine.com

Courtasy Of http://welldressedplates.com

How Would You Describe Your Cooking Style?

I try to use only the best seasonal produce and am very conscious of how food is grown, reared and treated. My style is probably best described as modern European, with influence from the French and British classics. My desserts are playful and often involve chocolate work, something I forged a reputation for in the show.

What Course Do You Prefer To Cook?

I enjoy cooking all courses but love working with meat. I’m fascinated with how the body works and butchery is something I work hard at. You can get so many different flavours from one animal just by choosing different cuts of meat. I think it’s very important to respect the animal, waste nothing and show off the meat in a natural manner.

What Is Your Favourite Dish/Signature Dish to Make?

I’m probably best known for my desserts, despite the fact that I don’t really have a sweet tooth! My “caramel frappuccino” dish is often requested and is a fun take on the coffee shop drink. It contains a mousse filled chocolate tube, biscotti, a crumb, an ice cream, gel, chantilly and sugar work, all balanced carefully to create an exciting dessert.

Tony Rodd Example Dish from http://welldressedplates.com

Courtasy Of – http://welldressedplates.com

What Ingredient Do You Love To Cook With The Most?

Ingredients change with the season, as does my love for them. I tend to find I work with one ingredient intensively for a few months while it’s at it’s best. Earlier this year, butternut squash featured in about six of my dishes and I’d cooked it in more ways than I can remember. Now the asparagus season is starting, that will be a star of many menus.

What Inspired You To Enter MasterChef 2015?

I entered MasterChef for a laugh. I’d never intended on quitting my job or changing my lifestyle but wanted to have some fun and experience the show from the other side of the screen. Having been told by my friends, following a dinner party or meal, that I should enter the show, I started to think that maybe it was worth a try. The rest, as they say, is history.

Which Other Chefs Inspire You?

Michel Roux Junior has, and always will be, my hero, but I also look up to chefs like Massimo Bottura for his playful nature with food, Anton Bjuhr and Jacob Holmstrom for their approach to ingredients and Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti for their drive. Anton Piotrowski who won the pros a few years ago and Tom Kerridge are up there with the best of them and there are so many more I’ve not mentioned!

Tony Rodd MasterChef Finalist 2015 - Take a look at the complete interview - http://amateurchef.wpengine.comAny Advice You Would Give To People Wanting To Become A Chef?

You have to be truly passionate to be a chef. The hours are long, conditions hard and money low. You’re also not appreciated by your guests as you’re hidden away in a hot kitchen. If, however, you love food, enjoy creating new masterpieces and live to entertain, give it a go.

Anything You Would Like To Share, IE New Book? Development At Restaurant etc?

My new book is due out in late summer and my website, www.welldressedplates.com has dates of all my supper clubs, food festival appearances and details on how to get in touch to book me for a private meal of your own.

I would personally like to thank Tony for taking the time to do this interview, he really is a great guy and an incredible chef!

I cannot wait to get his book when its released as it looks excellent and just what i’ll be after!

Please follow him on Twitter and Facebook to keep updated on what he is up to 🙂

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TonyRoddUK
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TonyRoddMasterChef
Website: www.welldressedplates.com

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Mark Stinchcombe MasterChef Professionals 2015 Winner

Mark Stinchcombe MasterChef Professionals 2015 Winner

Mark Stinchcombe MasterChef Professionals 2015 WinnerMark was one of those chefs that really impressed me from the start, his food looked amazing and you could really tell that he had a passion for what he was doing. Mark met his wife and fellow chef Sue whilst working at le Champignon Sauvage, so I am sure food plays an important part in both their lives and something they can do together.

Mark has had experience at some incredible restaurants such as The Fat Duck and Le Manoir, you can see these experiences has helped shape him into the great chef that he is.

I loved the Venison and Lamb dishes he cooked on MasterChef The Professionals, that is the type of food I love to eat. A good bit of meat but perfectly styled to be a tasty piece of art. Mark and Sue are the masterminds behind the menus at Eckington Manor, which looks incredible and the food looks simply amazing!


Eckington Manor also has a cookery school which looks incredible, somewhere I’ll have to treat Rach to at some point I am sure!!

When Did You First Have An Interest Cooking?

I first got interested in cooking at school. We had a fantastic Home Economics teacher. She was so passionate about food that her enthusiasm really came across to all the students.

How Long Have You Been Cooking Professionally?

I have been cooking professionally for 11 ½ years, working all around the country and abroad.

Mark Stinchcombe MasterChef Professionals 2015 Winner 2Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?

We get inspiration from eating out regularly and reading books. When produce comes into season and you see all the beautiful ingredients there is no better inspiration.

What Was Your Best Bit of MasterChef 2015?

One of the greatest highlights has to be the episode where we cooked at the Law Society. We all came together in the kitchen and worked as a team, and then went back into the MasterChef kitchen and everyone produced amazing food. When everyone went through to the next round it was a brilliant end to the show.

How Would You Describe Your Cooking Style?

Our style of cooking is hard to describe, we use the freshest ingredients and elevate them to the next level.

What Course Do You Prefer To Cook?

I love cooking starters, I like the fact that they can be hot or cold and you can use lots of ingredients to create the perfect dish.

What Is Your Favourite Dish/Signature Dish to Make?

Our favourite dish/signature dish has to be the beef dish. We have our own beef cattle on our farm, which supplies the restaurant directly. We use braised and a prime cut of beef, and the charcoal emulsion gives it great flavour.

Mark Stinchcombe MasterChef Professionals 2015 Winner 3What Ingredient Do You Love To Cook With The Most?

We love to cook with Jerusalem artichokes as they have beautiful flavour and are so versatile.

What Inspired You To Enter MasterChef 2015?

I entered Masterchef: The Professionals to showcase our food to a wider audience. Sue, my wife, and I wanted people to know the style we are creating at Eckington Manor.

Which Other Chefs Inspire You?

There are so many chefs who inspire us. Ben Shrewry at Attica in Melbourne is an amazing chef and family man, and we love Tom Kerridge’s food at The Hand and Flowers.

Any Advice You Would Give To People Wanting To Become A Chef?

Advice I would give to other chefs is to eat out as much as possible and buy cook books. Both of these are so important to develop your own style and palate.

Anything You Would Like To Share, IE New Book? Development At Restaurant etc?

Due to demand after the show, we are now open for Sunday lunch, to showcase our beef from the farm, and we are looking into a tasting menu.

You can follow Mark on Twitter: @markschef
Check out Eckington Manor on Twitter: @EckingtonManor
Ecktington Manor Official Website: http://www.eckingtonmanor.co.uk/

I would just like to thank Mark again for taking the time to answer the questions, I am sure he is very busy and I really appreciate it. His food looks amazing and I cannot wait to hopefully try it myself one day!

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Nick Bennett MasterChef Professionals 2015 Finalist

Nick Bennett MasterChef Professionals 2015 Finalist

Nick Bennett MasterChef Professionals 2015 Finalist - Chef Interview on AmateurChef.co.ukNick entered MasterChef The Professionals thanks to his chef de partie, Zak. As well as having the desire to see how his skills compared to other chefs. Out of the 48 quarterfinalists Nick made it to the final 5, which goes to show how talented he is.

I remember watching MasterChef The Professionals and was initially impressed with the desserts he did, they looked amazing! His Cheesecake for example looked amazingly good!

Nick is sous chef at Restaurant 56 and if his food is anything to go by, eating at Restaurant 56 would be an amazing culinary experience!

When Did You First Have An Interest Cooking?


I first got interested in cooking whilst at school, in my food technology class. Then at 14, I got a job in a local country pub washing up and doing simple jobs like making soups. That really sparked an interest in cooking, so after I spent my work experience at the same pub, I was hooked.

How Long Have You Been Cooking Professionally?Nick Bennett MasterChef Professionals 2015 Finalist - incredible looking duck!

I have been cooking professionally for 10 years now.

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?

For me, inspiration comes from various paths. Eating out in good places is a great way to see what other trends and styles other restaurants are exploring. I have a serious collection of cookbooks too! It’s great to flick through the books of some of the world’s top chefs and see if you can take inspiration for a new dish. For me, it is important not to try to replicate a chef’s dish, but to take a few techniques or flavour combinations and implicate them into my own cooking. A big tool these days is social media. You can find endless pictures and videos on Twitter and Facebook from some of the best chefs around.

What Was Your Best Bit of MasterChef 2015?

There were so many highlights for me in the competition. I loved the team challenge, cooking in Edinburgh with Tom Kitchin, but the best bit was getting to go to Alba and work alongside Enrico Crippa. To be in his presence to watch him cook and talk about his food philosophy was something I will never forget.

How Would You Describe Your Cooking Style?

I cook modern British cuisine, with classic foundations.

What Course Do You Prefer To Cook?

I have a real passion for pastry. I love the creativity you can have with desserts, as well as the science and precision. I have been on the pastry for a few years now and love it.

What Is Your Favourite Dish/Signature Dish to Make?

Nick Bennett MasterChef Professionals 2015 Finalist - Nicks Cheesecake - Amazing http://amateurchef.wpengine.comThat is a very hard question! I suppose one of the dishes I am most fond of is the cheesecake cannelloni. The version I did on the show went down a storm! It changes seasonally and is a constant feature on our menu.

What Ingredient Do You Love To Cook With The Most?

It’s hard to pick out a single ingredient, in the UK now there is amazing produce readily available to us. I always look forward to using English strawberries and asparagus as well as wild garlic and the amazing mushrooms we have.

What Inspired You To Enter MasterChef 2015?

My chef de partie, Zak, suggested I enter as he saw the applications were open. I have always watched the professionals so it was in the back of my mind to enter at some point.

Which Other Chefs Inspire You?

Marcus Wareing is a big inspiration and an important aspect in me entering the show. Tom Kerridge, Simon Rogan and Daniel Humm are some of the many chefs I look up to.

Any Advice You Would Give To People Wanting To Become A Chef?

Don’t give up! It’s a tough industry and very demanding on a young chef, but the rewards are endless if you are willing to put the hard work in. I have stayed with a couple of chefs for many years and learnt my skills set and fine-tuned my knowledge, and it has definitely set me in good stead.

Anything You Would Like To Share, IE New Book? Development At Restaurant etc?

The hotel and restaurant have had a recent refurbishment and we are filling up rapidly so come and see us! There are some special menu nights with me at the end of each month to look out for. The restaurants website is www.restaurant56.co.uk and my twitter is @_nick_bennett

Dont forget to also follow Restuarant 56 on Twitter: @56_restaurant

Nick is an incredible chef and I would really encourage everyone to follow him on Twitter. I would really like to thank him for taking the time to do this interview, it means a great deal.

I look forward to hopefully trying out some of his excellent food in the future! 🙂

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Scott Barnard MasterChef 2015 Finalist

Scott Barnard MasterChef the professionals 2015 finalist - check out his interview with http://amateurchef.wpengine.comScott Barnard entered 2015’s MasterChef The Professionals thanks to the push from his friend, wife and head chef. Throughout his time on MasterChef he has produced some incredible dishes for the judges and cooked his way to finals week.

Scott is Sous chef at the incredible Colette’s restaurant at The Grove Hotel in London and Sunday will be doing a pop up meal, allowing guests to sample the excellent food he cooked on MasterChef (What a treat!!)

Scotts best bit was during finals week where they had to cook for 30 of the world’s greatest chefs, which must have not only be a great honor but also incredibly scary. Scott made an incredible ice cream dessert which seemed to impress all chefs, it did look very impressive!

When Did You First Have An Interest Cooking?


I first became interested in cooking around the age of 14 or 15, as I really enjoyed cookery in school.

How Long Have You Been Cooking Professionally?

It’s been fourteen years now.

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?

I get my inspiration from lots of different places, either cook books, eating out when I can, and also following chefs on social media can all spark inspiration for me.

Scott Barnard MasterChef 2What Was Your Best Bit of MasterChef 2015?

For me the Chef’s table was by far the best moment of the competition for me, and also of my career!

How Would You Describe Your Cooking Style?

I would describe my style as modern European – classic combinations with a twist.

What Course Do You Prefer To Cook?

I really enjoy pastry, but I just love cooking full stop, it’s all my favourite.

What Is Your Favourite Dish/Signature Dish to Make?

I don’t think I have a signature dish, but I love creating dishes with pork and apple.

What Ingredient Do You Love To Cook With The Most?

It’s got to be hand-dived scallops fresh from Scotland, I love opening them, and I also love to cook with langoustines.

scott barnard MasterChef 4What Inspired You To Enter MasterChef 2015?

My friend Steve Barringer was in the competition in 2011, and he told me to enter. Also my wife and my head chef both encouraged me to go for it.

Which Other Chefs Inspire You?

Adam Simmonds, Michael Wignall, Sat Bains, Simon Rogan…to name but a few!

Any Advice You Would Give To People Wanting To Become A Chef?

I’d say to stick at it, it’s a tough industry but it’s amazing and very rewarding.

Anything You Would Like To Share, IE New Book? Development At Restaurant etc?

Do follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook for up and coming events.

Twitter: @scottabmfc
Instagram: scottabmfc
Facebook: Scott Barnard – MasterChef

Also check out Colette’s restaurant at The Grove Hotel;

Twitter: @TheGroveHotel
Facebook: The Grove Hotel
Website: https://www.thegrove.co.uk/

I would like to thank Scott again for taking the time to take part in this interview, he is an incredible chef and I look forward to seeing more from him!

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Andi Walker MasterChef 2015 Finalist

Andi Walker MasterChefAndi Walker did an incredible job on MasterChef the Professionals , and should be proud of what he achieved on the show. I was reading about what inspired him to enter and to be honest did make me a little emotional.

His grandmother sparked his love of cooking and has recently become ill with dementia and wanted to appear on the show as a tribute to her, which I think is incredible and am sure she is more than proud of him.

I remember watching the Law Society episode which happened to be Andi’s best part of MasterChef, they all did incredibly well both for the guests and their show stoppers. During this episode Andi made an incredible dish of Venison, which is rolled in panko and parmesan and had a honey, soy venison sauce. It looked incredible and made me just want to grab it out of the TV and dig into it. What a great job!!


This episode actually ended with a little shock as they all went through and rightly so!!

When Did You First Have An Interest Cooking?

As far as I can remember I have always had an interest in food and cooking, all the way from when I was a greedy little boy.

How Long Have You Been Cooking Professionally?

Andi Walker MasterChef Food 2I have been cooking professionally for 18 years…that makes me feel very old.

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?

My inspiration comes in many forms from travelling, reading, eating out and my life experiences.

What Was Your Best Bit of MasterChef 2015?

My best bit was most definitely cooking at the Law Society. It was such a great day to be a part of and to hear so many people talking about it at the time made it so special, the other chefs were all amazing and it was such a highlight when we went back to cook our show stopper dishes and not one of us got any negative feedback, it was such a great feeling.

How Would You Describe Your Cooking Style?

My cooking style is still evolving but I just see it as me on a plate, no gimmicks or messing around, straight up honest food.

Andi Walker MasterChef Food 3What Course Do You Prefer To Cook?

I would say I love cooking with fish the most, I think it takes such skill to get this right.

What Is Your Favourite Dish/Signature Dish to Make?

My favourite dish to make is my duck and broccoli dish with spicy peanuts, yoghurt and honey and soy jus, it’s the only dish that I can say is totally mine, I love it.

What Ingredient Do You Love To Cook With The Most?

I love working with fish, but I love anything that is in season and has been delivered to me with as much love as I’m going to cook it.

What Inspired You To Enter MasterChef 2015?

My Nan aka Nanny Pickles, she’s my inspiration behind my whole career and as she’s quite ill I just wanted to do something that she could watch and see what she has done for my life.

Andi Walker MasterChef Food 1Which Other Chefs Inspire You?

Every chef I met on Masterchef was amazing, and we’re all still good friends, but the main chef I still look towards for approval is Martin Nisbet of Bushel and Strike, he really changed my whole mind set on cooking and I’ll always be grateful for that.

Any Advice You Would Give To People Wanting To Become A Chef?

Only do it if you are serious, it’s not an industry to be played at, and learn the basics!

Anything You Would Like To Share, IE New Book? Development At Restaurant etc?

Please follow me on twitter @chefandiwalker exciting things are happening and I will be tweeting about them as and when they are confirmed.

I want to thank Andi for taking the time and effort in doing this interview, he really came across as a nice guy and a great chef! Good luck to him in the future and I hope I get to taste some of his incredible food soon! 🙂

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Chef Interview – Dean Westcar

Dean-WestcarI was watching Masterchef the professionals 2015 and was in awe at the dishes being made, I cannot remember which week it was but Dean made a white chocolate dessert with raspberries and it looked incredible.

As soon as I saw it I took to twitter to tell him what a great job he did and have been impressed with all of his dishes in the weeks following. Dean was more than happy to take part in the interview, which I really do appreciate from such a great talent.

Dean Westcar made it through to the Semi-Finals of Masterchef the professionals 2015, for which he should be very proud of himself as I think he did a great job. Masterchef was not the first competition Dean has entered, he entered and won South West Professional Chef of the year in 2014.


Since Masterchef the professionals 2015, Dean has taken on a new role at Lucknam Park in Colerne. This new role will allow him to develop his skills and he is also keen to get involved in the cookery school. The cookery school looks excellent with some nice courses coming up, some that i’d love to try and experience in the future.

When Did You First Have An Interest Cooking?

At a very young age, my parents always made home cooked meals for my brothers and I. I was fascinated how you could turn simple ingredients into something so tasty!

How Long Have You Been Cooking Professionally?

Eight years.

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?

The ingredients and produce that comes through the door, my team and vast amounts of books!

Dean-Westcar-Starter-small

Courtesy of http://www.southwestchef.co.uk/2014-2/

What Was Your Best Bet Of MasterChef 2015

The group challenge at the Law Society and creating my pork and scallop dish for the cook off after it!

How Would You Describe Your Cooking Style?

My cooking style is very simple i like to use the best ingredients i can find and let them do the talking

What Course Do You Prefer To Cook?

I don’t really have a favourite but if I had to choose it would be starters.

What Is Your Favourite Dish/Signature Dish to Make?

Line caught wild sea bass, Jerusalem artichokes, pickled crones, crab croquette and roasted hazelnut puree.

Dean-Westcar-Main-small

courtesy – http://www.southwestchef.co.uk/2014-2/

What Ingredient Do You Love To Cook With The Most?

Mackerel… I love how versatile it is.

What Inspired You To Enter MasterChef 2015

The challenge! Just to see what I was made and how I compare to some of the most talented chefs in the country.

Which Other Chefs Inspire You?

Richard Davies, Hywel Jones, Grant Achatz, Tom Kerridge, Anton Piotrowski & Brent Savage. There are many more but too many to write down!

Any Advice You Would Give To People Wanting To Become A Chef?

It’s hard work at the start, the hours are long and the pressure is intense but just stick at it and after a few years it will pay off and you will create something magical.

Dean-Westcar-Dessert-small

Courtesy – http://www.southwestchef.co.uk/2014-2/

Any Thing You Would Like To Share, IE New Book? Development At Restaurant etc? 

I’ve just taken on a new role at Lucknam Park in Colerne, where I am hoping to develop my skills further and get involved with the cookery school there.

Where To Find Dean Westcar?

Twitter: @DeanWestCar
I would just like to thank Dean again for taking part in the interview, I really do appreciate it. Id love it if everyone else could show their appreciation and follow him on Twitter 🙂

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Chef Interviews – Mark Heirs

Mark Heirs Promo ImageMark Heirs has always been around food, with his parents owning pubs and restaurants. He used to help out in the kitchens and his love of food has continued to develop into adulthood. Mark appeared on Masterchef 2008 and did very well getting to the quarter finals.

Mark even spent time working in well-known restaurants such as Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck, now he travels doing demonstrations as well as working as a private chef. Keep your eye out for him at food shows throughout the UK.

When Did You First Have An Interest Cooking?

My parents always had pubs and restaurants i’ve grown up in the hospitality sector so becoming a chef was really the only career i ever considered.

How Long Have You Been Cooking Professionally?

Officially 15 years now but I’ve been in helping in kitchens as long as i can remember.

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?

I love local seasonal produce so the changing season always inspires me to create new dishes

If You Was Not A Chef, What Would You Want To Do?

I love golf so if i wasn’t a chef maybe id find a golf related career.

How Would You Describe Your Cooking Style?

My cooking style is very simple i like to use the best ingredients i can find and let them do the talking

What Course Do You Prefer To Cook?

I love desserts i always feel you can be a lot more creative with desserts and really have a bit of fun.

What Is Your Favourite Dish/Signature Dish to Make?

My signature dish has to be my gin cured salmon ive done lots of adaptations with it depending on the time of year but in the summer i do it with a hot compressed cumber and foraged wild flowers

What Ingredient Do You Love To Cook With The Most?

Anything bang in season, especially British asparagus its such a versatile ingredient.

What is Your Favourite Dish To Eat?

I love steak tartar, you don’t see it that often anymore but it is hands down my favourite thing to eat.

Which Other Chefs Inspire You?

The roux brothers are a huge inspiration to me. but i also love  how chefs like Heston Blumenthal have transformed the restaurant scene into such and special experience and not just a meal

Any Advice You Would Give To People Wanting To Become A Chef?

Don’t expect it to be easy or glamorous but it is the most rewarding career they could pick

Any Thing You Would Like To Share, IE New Book? Development At Restaurant etc? 

Just my new website www.markheirs.com it has links to all my current work.

Where To Find Mark Heirs?

Twitter: @markheirs
Id just like to thank Mark again for taking part in the interview, please take a look at his website and dont forget to follow him on Twitter!

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Chef Interviews – Gavin Long

Gavin Long ChefGavin Long is a 19 year old chef based in Cardiff, he is head patisserie chef at HogWurst and I can see why! Looking at his images on Instagram, he is extremely talented!

Id like to thank Gavin for taking part in the interview and wish him well working at Cafe North in Cardiff

When Did You First Have An Interest Cooking?

My Interest started when I was a young child around 4 years of age. Seeing my parents cook gave me a sense of wonder and fascination. Eating the foods they produced, the aromas, flavours, textures and just the pure form of cooking just hooked me! My parents came from a line of chefs so I guess that gave me the senses needed for being a chef.

How Long Have You Been Cooking Professionally?

I have been cooking professionally for more than 3 years now! Started in college at Cardiff learning ‘Professional Catering’ Level One and Two. Soon after I was working in a Gastro pub working alongside a Michelin star chef, taking in as much knowledge as possible in a short time. Then came 5* Hotel, Michelin rated restaurant, French patisserie specialist, Head Chef in café restaurant and soon Head Chef in another café restaurant.

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?

My inspiration came from my parents first and I am fortunate and proud to say that my parents are great chefs. My inspiration for professional catering then came from highly regarded chefs from television and books.

If You Was Not A Chef, What Would You Want To Do?

I love what I do which is Fine Patisserie but if I can follow another passion of mine it would be rock climbing. Rock climbing has always been my most favourite hobby apart from many others like archery, cycling and calligraphy. Rock climbing to me is a sense of freedom, one self to staying humble and passionate about Mother Nature.

Loving the outdoors and understanding Mother Nature always plays a role in being a chef, growing crops, herbs, farming etc… Is important and to me mandatory if you wish to become a great chef, everything we cook everything we taste comes from nature and to neglect this fact and knowledge is going to become a barrier in making you a better chef than you currently are.

How Would You Describe Your Cooking Style?

My cooking style is heavily influenced by French cuisines and Chinese cuisines. The French side is so beautiful in flavours and light, a good dish done with fresh ingredients is always the best, same goes with the Chinese dishes, yes it is rich and flavourful but it works because these chefs before us knew there ingredients, textures and combinations which a lot of chefs these days lack.

What Course Do You Prefer To Cook?

I love to make patisseries, not necessarily cooking but it is the course I love to do!

What Is Your Favourite Dish/Signature Dish to Make?

So far I don’t have a signature dish I love to make from the rest I have done, but what I did make that stood out to food bloggers, critics and customers is my version of a 7 layer Opera cake – coffee butter cream, choc ganache, chai syrup and pistachio-hazelnut Jaconde sponge.

What Ingredient Do You Love To Cook With The Most?

Has to be seafood like shellfish and fish. I haven’t cooked much myself but when I had the chance to, filleting, gutting and cooking them in different ways is just fantastic. The flavours of the sea the textures, aroma and ooooh the preparation it takes is just wonders!

What is Your Favourite Dish To Eat?

My favourite dish to eat is hard to choose because there is so many different genres, cuisines and flavours! If I had to choose one it will be roast pork with crackling, simple yet complex in textures and flavours all you want in a dish!

Which Other Chefs Inspire You?

Chef Michel Roux Senior – for his revolutionary patisseries’ (which was not heavily influenced in the UK until somewhat around 1980s)

Chef Raymond Blanc – for his enthusiastic can do attitude, character and personality. Also great in meats and poultry.

Chocolatier William Curly and Suzue Curley – the power couple of amazing chocolate work and incredible flavour combinations.

Chef Kevin Fairlie – My tutor and mentor from college, he played a huge role in what I do now in catering, he was the gentleman who encouraged, trusted and believed in me to become a ‘hopefully’ great patisserie chef and I plan to; to make him proud.

Any Advice You Would Give To People Wanting To Become A Chef?

Several advice I can give you:

• Have confidence in yourself and know where you can improve in areas.

• Don’t be hard headed and always take advice from others.

• Take in as much knowledge as possible that is ‘useful’ to you and throw out those which are ‘useless’.

• Learn to be a team player and be ready to help those who ask.

• And most important of all be respectful, honest and humble for these will make others respect ‘you’ and guide you to becoming a Chef and also as a person.

Any Thing You Would Like To Share, IE New Book? Development At Restaurant etc? 

I am becoming an Head Chef at Café North in Cardiff which will have a menu which I came up with; with the boss and friends so come down whenever you are free to try some of our simple yet fresh dishes! You will find the place on google maps and social media i.e. Facebook.

Where To Find Gavin?

Instagram: gavinhlong
Thanks again to Gavin for taking the time to do the interview, I really appreciate it 🙂 Please check him out on the above socials!

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Chef Interviews – Craig Floate

Craig Floate InterviewWhen Did You First Have An Interest Cooking?

I’ve had an interest in cooking ever since I was younger cooking with my mum in the family kitchen. Making simple dishes like roast dinners and fish and chips etc…. Not fancy but simple foods that fill a family of 5!

How Long Have You Been Cooking Professionally?


I’ve been cooking professionally since I was 16. I was doing my college course at Clarendon college whilst working in a small French restaurant in the lace market ‘Le Tetard’ Doing basic prep from vegetables to assisting the head chef in service time, I was only a small venue but I loved it!

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?

All over really! What ever is trendy and popular at the time, playing round with dishes and flavours when I have time, from other chefs, you never stop learning in this game!

If You Was Not A Chef, What Would You Want To Do?

Its all I’ve ever done so I cant imagine being anything else really, maybe something to do with sports id say.

Craig Floate Interview 1How Would You Describe Your Cooking Style?

Simple, fresh, attractive. I’m not reinventing the wheel, I use the best ingredients I can possibly get and just cook them how they are meant to be cooked and played around with too much. Yes I do like food to look attractive but if you can close your eyes and taste something you want as much flavour to come through in that dish as humanly possible.

What Course Do You Prefer To Cook?

I do love cooking main courses and sauces. Its kind of the pivotal point in the meal and a chance to shine, although I have been really taking to my desserts lately and I think its certainly easier to impress people with an amazing dessert than a main course, it just takes a bit more time and patience.

What Is Your Favourite Dish/Signature Dish to Make?

I don’t really have a signature dish, I must admit I do love cooking and making a good chocolate fondant and also eating! I do have a bit of a sweet tooth so anything with chocolate in is always a winner with me!

What Ingredient Do You Love To Cook With The Most?IMG_6539 (1)

I love cooking with lamb. I love the crispy fat when rendered down correctly, the softness of the meat and the punchy flavour when bang in season, it really is an amazing ingredient to work with.

What is Your Favourite Dish To Eat?

Corned beef and pickle sandwich!!! Simple! Us cooks spend most our time behind the stoves and eating and trying everything at work so by the time we come home I just want something quick and simple so a sandwich works every time!

Which Other Chefs Inspire You?

I must admit I really like Tom Kerridge style of food, simple but flavoursome food! Other than that, the usual suspects I suppose – Gordon Ramsey, Marcus Waring, Sat Bains etc…. Michael O’Hare is a strange one to watch at the moment!

His food on Great British menu this year was out of this world, and I think something different is always good. Also the Roca brothers from Spain are unbelievable also.

070 - Craig Floate Food Photography by Mark Pugh www.markpugh.com - 3Any Advice You Would Give To People Wanting To Become A Chef?

LISTEN!!! Its not a pretty industry, most chefs are strange!!! We stay in doors all day, play with fire and get off on being in the shit and busy as hell! Its all about hard work and listening and the willingness to learn.

I’ve taught a few people over my time but you can straight away that they aren’t interested and I don’t see the point in wasting my time if they aren’t interested.

Any Thing You Would Like To Share, IE New Book? Development At Restaurant etc? 

Looking to start a few ‘pop ups’ next year, just need to find a really good venue where people will come to try some new dishes and tastes. Just to keep developing my menus and dishes as I go along and keeping my customers happy!

Where To Find Craig Floate?

Facebook: craigfloatechef
Thanks again to Craig for taking the time to do the interview. Wait until 2016 for hopefully some more from Craig 😉

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