Most of my ideas for new dishes come to me instinctively based on our surroundings. It doesn’t take a particularly clever chef to walk across the river everyday where there is watercress and crayfish and see that those things can be put together – it’s how nature intended.
The idea of the allotment bread first came to me three or four months ago. It was literally a case of going to our allotment garden and having the curry plant there - I love that because you walk past it and you get a little smell of Madras. So I thought I’d use that with some lavender (lavender is something that I just love – anything from washing powder to shower gel I like to buy lavender!) and our rosemary bush was getting a bit overgrown, too. It was a case of using those three ingredients for a purpose.
It was literally a spur of the moment thing – I brought them all into the kitchen, gave them a good wash, picked them down and added four equal quantities of each to our basic focaccia dough. I proved it overnight and the next day baked it off – as soon as it’s cut open it just smells of the garden and you get a nice, focaccia-style crust. It worked perfectly first time round and we haven’t really needed to tweak it since, though I did go through a stage of putting lots of flowers in it when we had them in the garden over the summer.