Upon returning to the UK Paul took on a sous chef position at Restaurant Sat Bains, the two Michelin-starred restaurant in Nottingham. Chef Sat Bains proved a hugely influential mentor to Paul, pushing the young chef to develop himself creatively and to bring taste and flavour to the forefront of his focus. Under Bains’ tutelage Paul learnt to view quality and flavour of ingredients as paramount, with technique used as a supporting factor in the creation of a dish.
Keen to further his own style of cooking Paul became head chef at the Tuddenham Mill, Suffolk in 2010. The idyllic location inspired him to make use of the wild plants he could see from the restaurant’s window such as mugwort and meadowsweet, growing by the river Lark. This use of foraged ingredients to enhance the flavour of his food – rather than as a mere culinary trend – is a mark of his creativity. He often chooses to omit those details from his menu so that the taste can speak for itself – hake and confit potato is enriched with chickweed, whilst he uses ground ivy in a lime curd and yogurt mousse. Whilst flavour and texture is key to Paul’s cooking his visual inventiveness shines through - a dessert of Bitter chocolate textures, for example, is served surrounded by chocolate soil.
After four years of honing his style and seeing Tuddenham Mill awarded three AA Rosettes, Paul Foster moved to The Dining Room at Mallory Court in Bishops Tachbrook. Based just outside Leamington Spa, it marked a return to the chef’s Warwickshire roots. The kitchen is partly sustained by Mallory Court Hotel’s gardens, allowing Paul to evolve his menus through the seasons. His signature use of wild herbs is still present throughout his cooking, while seasonal vegetables, such as freshly picked asparagus and beetroot from the garden, also played a key part in his dishes.
Friend and mentor Sat Bains has described Paul’s cooking as modern, with clear influences from the chef’s own travels and career. Paul's recipe of 40° salmon with potato juice, Jerusalem artichoke and sea vegetables harks back to his first experience of cooking sous vide in America, and is a dish that has been developed upon since his time at Tuddenham Mill.
Paul is actively involved in fundraising for Farm Africa, a charity which helps develop farming techniques in communities in East Africa. In 2013 he visited some of the projects in Kenya and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, helping to raise over £47,000 for the cause. He has also facilitated organising an annual five-a-side football tournament for the charity.
In February 2016, Paul announced he was leaving Mallory Court to crowdfund his own restaurant through Kickstarter. He achieved his target of £100,000 at the beginning of March, and is now working hard to open Salt in Leamington Spa in summer.
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