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Daniel Clifford

Daniel Clifford

Only one year later, the restaurant was devastated by flood, then again in 2000 when the River Cam burst its banks once more. After the second flood, instead of making all his staff redundant, he got them involved in the clean up and only three-and-a-half weeks later, the restaurant reopened. During that period, Daniel and his team had time to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the restaurant and when it once more opened its doors, it did so with many improvements and a stronger sense of purpose. Like many other high-end restaurants in Britain, the style of service was relaxed and the food was refined and simplified.

This setback proved to be a turning point for the restaurant – just two months after it returned in 2002, it won its first Michelin star. A second followed in 2005, which it has retained ever since. Midsummer House also holds five AA rosettes and 8/10 in the Good Food Guide, as well as being a fixture in the Good Food Guide's Top 50.

With his first head chef position coming when he opened Midsummer House, Daniel has taken time to truly develop his own style of cooking – to pack his 3,000 cookbooks away in the loft and look to himself for inspiration instead. He has moved away from cooking that is founded on a classical French tradition to something more experimental. Gone is the traditional adherence to luxuries – the langoustines, foie gras and truffle – and in its place is a broader spectrum on ingredients, with everything earning its place on taste alone. And in progressing his style he has drawn inspiration from his time in Tours, working with Jean Bardet.

Noted for his absolutely outstanding amuse-bouches, such as this Bloody Mary foam with salsa, other signature dishes include his Hand-dived scallops with celeriac-truffle purée and apple textures – which has been on the menu since the outset – and his Chicken wings with Reblochon pomme purée and chicory. His dessert drink, Pousse café – layers of lemon and whisky cream, egg yolk cream and sweet maple syrup – has now become iconic and customers have been known to request up to four of these 'shots' in one sitting.

With Daniel Clifford’s towering ambitions in mind, and the knowledge that he has five young daughters on his hands too, where he finds the time for another venture is a mystery. And yet, he opened The Flitch of Bacon in 2015 – a beautiful country pub just fifteen minutes from his home in Essex. After a considerable period spent renovating, Daniel joined forces with longtime friend Tim Allen, putting him in charge of the kitchen and subsequently winning a Michelin star in 2018.

When Daniel won Chef's Chef of the Year at the AA Awards in 2016, it confirms what many of us had known for some time – he is a chef performing at the very top of his game. Over the course of three decades, he has fully realised his own unique style, and today, he is unquestionably one of the greatest chefs in the country.

Three things you need to know

Daniel has twice won Great British Menu – once in 2012 with a memorable slow-poached chicken with sweetcorn 'egg', buttered spinach with bacon and peas, and again in 2013 with a pineapple cheesecake, coconut sorbet, pineapple textures and piña colada. He now regularly appears as a veteran judge.

In 2018, Daniel released Out Of My Tree – an autobiographical cookbook in which he laid bare his life, as well as sharing recipes from two decades of Midsummer House.

Daniel enjoys spending his spare time with his five daughters, and he is also a keen carp fisherman.