Head Chef – Figurati
Why did you decide to become a chef – what inspired you?
I was very fortunate to be able to work in a professional kitchen from the age of 12 as my older brother was a chef.
I used to help out washing up at weekends and fell in love with the kitchen environment.
The inspiration to become a chef was the satisfaction from seeing a customer enjoy what you have produced and the determination to become better.
Where did you train?
From a young age with my brother, in and around Southampton/Romsey area, once I turned 16 I attended Southampton city college for an NVQ in hospitality.
What influences your menu?
Seasonal produce will always have a huge influence on our menu.
What is your favourite cuisine to cook?
I would say my style of cuisine would be modern European influences from around Europe, but right now it has to be Italian cuisine, I love the way humble ingredients are given the same respect as any other premium ingredient to extract the most amount of flavour as possible.
What is your own personal signature dish?
Pan roasted skrei cod loin, slow-cooked pork cheek ragü, sauteed gnocchi, steamed clams
Right now it has to be pork cheeks, treated with a lot of respect, slow cooked really tender and with maximum flavour
Your favourite season to cook in?
For me it has to be spring, after coming out of winter and all the slow cooking and braising, to have a light elegant dish that just sings springtime.
What’s the next ‘big thing’ in cooking?
I think it will be trying to maximise using secondary cuts, with the increase in energy cost it will be trying to maximise profits and still delivering excellence.
What’s your personal go-to dish when short of time?
A really simple pasta dish as I always have pesto stored in my fridge. Sautee a few prawns and some pesto and mascarpone, a little of the pasta water and serve
You have your idol coming to dinner at your home, what do you serve?
A simple soup I learned from my grandmother, a simple ham hock, red lentil and potato soup, this would always be ticking over on the stove when I was a child.
Favourite British fruit and vegetable?
Right now it has to be tomatoes form the Isle of Wight, with the micro-climate they have, it produces some of the best tomatoes money can buy
Is there a recipe you could share us?
Yes, my West Wellow pork, carrot puree, black pudding potato cake with cider sauce.
West Wellow pork, carrot purée black pudding potato cake with cider sauce
Chef’s Tip: Best to prepare the pork belly and pig cheek a day in advance to get the best results, it then will give you some time to get the sauce just right!
- 1 Pork fillet approx 500g
- 500g pork belly
- 4 pig cheeks
- 1 large baking potato
- 75g quality black pudding
- Panko breadcrumbs
- 4 Large carrots peeled and sliced
- 100g Butter
- 100ml chicken stock
- 100ml cider
- 100g Spinach
- Season & place belly in a deep roasting tray, fill with water half way up the belly, oil the skin and salt generously, put in oven at 200c for 20 mins.
- Lower oven to 150c cover with foil, cook for 3-3½ hours, remove belly and press between two trays.
- Retain cooking liquor for the sauce.
- Season the cheeks and seal in a hot frying pan
- Add mirepoix of veg and deglaze with red wine
- Transfer to deep tray, cover with cold water & cook in the oven at 150c for approx 2-3 hours.
- Bake the potato in a hot oven until soft
- Scope out the potato from its skin and pass it through a potato ricer
- Add the black pudding and season well.
- Weigh into 50g balls and shape into a ring. Panne the cakes
- Cover carrots with water, bring to the boil and cook until soft
- Strain from liquid and place into a food processor, add butter and puree until smooth.
- Pass through fine sieve and season
For the sauce
- Add the cider, the pork cooking juices and the chicken stock to a sauce pan and reduce.
- Portion the pork belly, season the pork fillet and seal in a pan on all sides, cook in oven at 180c for approx 6-7 mins then rest.
- Put the cheeks in the cider sauce.
- Deep fry the potato cake and sautee the spinach in butter.
- Trim the fillet and portion into 4, and assemble the plate.