New Forest to New York and Back
"As a child I was always drawn to New York. It just always looked so incredible in films and on TV; then I started to learn about the food scene over there. I bought the book Eleven Madison Park when it first came out and fell in love with the food style. I thought if I ever get the chance to go to New York, I will eat there.
"One day I just decided to go for it and booked a holiday there - booking my flight and dinner at Eleven Madison Park at the same time. When I ate there, it completely changed how I felt about restaurants and food. I felt I had to work there one day. I came back to England and wrote to them, asking for a job. It took me a few emails, but finally they replied, inviting me to go over for an interview. I worked for a day with them and they gave me a potato and one hour to make a dish out of it. I made a sweet potato fondant with purple potato and caramelised onion fondue, pickled onions and roast onion and thyme consommé. They offered me the job. It was an incredible experience. I worked every section in the kitchen and was offered the Sous Chef Position after six months.
"Living and cheffing in the New Forest is the complete opposite of New York. New York is constantly busy. For the commute to work I took two trains every morning at 4am to be at work for 5:30am. Here I drive about two miles and the traffic is normally donkeys and ponies.
"When working in New York you lose the connection with nature and where the food comes from. That is something I feel strongly about; it’s why I decided to come back home to the New Forest and start doing my own food.
"I always had an interest in food and loved cooking. I used to cook cakes with my Grandmother when I was very young and she bought me my first set of Whites when I was about six years old. I went onto work in small pubs and hotels and learned the basics. My first ever role at the Montagu Arms was as Pastry Chef when I was 18 years old! It was an amazing learning experience. Coming back was a surreal feeling, but I knew it was the right thing for me. To achieve my goals in my profession in the place I first trained and in the area I am originally from is a very special thing.
"I admire every chef I have ever worked with or for. I have taken something from every one of them and learned so much, including Marco Pierre White who has always been the chef I look up to. Daniel Humm from Eleven Madison Park is an amazing chef and person and gave me so much support when working for him. Years ago, I ate at Sat Bains restaurant and he was the first person to make me see what it is like to bring so much flavour out of humble ingredients. The meal I had at his restaurant allowed me to start thinking differently about food and focusing on the ingredient and how to get the best out of it. My old boss and good friend Chris Eden will always be someone I look to for advice and support. His work ethic and pure determination was inspiring.
"The Menu we offer here at The Terrace simply shows off the best ingredients we can source in the best way possible. We focus on using local ingredients mainly from Hampshire – giving guests a dining experience and showing them what we believe in. We have a dish at the moment that goes down so well: New Forest Mushrooms with Confit Chicken Wings, Chicken Jus and Pine. We cook the types of mushrooms in different ways: roasted, glazed, dried, crispy and pureed. We pick pine from the Forest, make oil from it and pick spruce to garnish the plate. We dehydrate kale from our kitchen garden to act as the leaves of the Forest and finish with a mushroom powder. When we plate the dish, it looks like the Forest floor and when you eat it, you know where you are."