In 2013, he joined Fallowfields Country House Hotel in Oxfordshire, taking up positions both as head chef and farm manager, with his wife working again as restaurant manager. Keen to expand his knowledge of food – beyond Michelin-star cooking and into animal husbandry and produce cultivation – he was involved in every aspect of the food. Still creating beautiful, accomplished, seasonal plates with the ultra-fresh ingredients he was now producing, he also reared forgotten pig breeds during his time there and achieved three AA rosettes for his efforts.
In late 2014, the couple took over the tenancy of The Lamb Inn, in the Cotswolds, which they describe as “a relaxed, welcoming village pub with great service, ambience and creatively home cooked food, produced in our kitchen.” Expect more British-inflected dishes such as the comforting Sticky braised Oxford Sandy and Black pork cheeks with apple, mashed potato, onion rings and cider gravy, washed down with real ales from the nearby Wychwood Brewery, followed by Warm treacle tart with lemon-vanilla curd and lemon ice cream. Of course, as a member of Slow Food UK’s Chef Alliance, his passion for Britain’s natural larder remains a theme, with Cotswolds meat, fish, vegetables and cheeses making an appearance.
With many years of experience working in large and successful hotel-restaurant operations, the couple are now pouring their energies into their own business. Although their menus suggest they are moving away from the fine dining they are so familiar with, the emphasis on quality ingredients and beautifully executed food remains the same, though now in the more relaxed and informal atmosphere of “a classic old English inn with beams and a real log fire crackling away on a cold winter’s night.”
If your kitchen was on fire, what would you save and why?
Recipes, Pacojet, Thermomix and Mac knives – I am nothing without them
If you weren’t a chef what would you be?
One of the world’s greatest pool players
What’s your foodie guilty pleasure?
Smoked bacon, crisp lettuce, garlic aioli in thick toasted white bread starts the working day at the weekend; along with the mother of all cappuccinos made with Ue Coffee
If you had to cook for your hero, who would you cook for and what would you cook?
Raymond Blanc. The man is a genius with infectious passion for food. I’d cook three courses from the Lamb’s menu.
Who would be your fantasy dinner guests?
Winston Churchill, Mohammed Ali, Keith Floyd, Delia Smith, Bill Shankly, Mary Berry, Geoff Hurst, Ian Rush (a god), Raymond Blanc, Field Marshal Montgomery, Eric Clapton, Mick Weedon, Bobby Moore, Geoff Weedon, Paul Bocuse, Bernard Loiseau, Nigella Lawson, Mark Knopfler, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix. I wouldn’t cook though.
Sweet or savoury?
What is your favourite food shop or market?
Daylesford Organic in Kingham – an amazing place
Where do you love to eat on a relaxed night out?
Cotswold village pubs with good honest tasty food
And for a blow-out dinner?
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons