Ever wondered where Trencherman’s chefs eat on their days off? Or what inspired them to pursue careers in the kitchen? We chewed the fat with Charles Smith, head chef at Lords of the Manor in Gloucestershire
Where do you enjoy eating out?
I like casual dining, places that do simple food well like The Old Butchers in Stow-on-the-Wold – their grilled lobster and chips is great. I enjoy dining at special restaurants too; Arpège in Paris is one of my favourites. It’s very vegetable based but Alain Passard works wonders with fresh and organic produce. A dish of sauteed foie gras with passion fruit sauce at Restaurant Paul Bocuse in Lyon was also extremely memorable.
What’s your go-to kitchen item?
My razor-sharp Misono knife – I use it all day every day.
Earliest food memory?
Going to the market in Preston with my great grandad to pick up things such as black pudding, beetroot, pickled herring and damsons. He was a great cook and we’d go home and make things like fresh black pudding with mustard and onions. My mum was an excellent cook too. It’s hard to choose one dish but her steak and kidney pudding was particularly good.
Most surprising thing you’ve eaten?
I cooked with Sasu Laukkonen of Ora Restaurant in Helsinki and he made a pine parfait with white chocolate. I’m usually against strange flavoured desserts but it was absolutely delicious. I have an adventurous palate and will try anything once – though it’s all about the flavour, so if it doesn’t taste good I won’t eat it again just because it’s trendy.
Next big thing in food?
I have no interest in food fashions; I like flavours that are harmonious on the palate, and enjoy classics that are tried and tested.
Food trend you’d rather forget?
I don’t follow food trends so I prefer to stick to the classics. Some wild herbs are also very overrated in my opinion.
Favourite way to cook?
With a pan over the stove. We cook all of our meat and fish in a pan at Lords of the Manor – we don’t use water baths as it doesn’t demonstrate the chefs’ skills. Learning to work the stove is hard and it takes time.
Like to have supper with?
Alain Passard, Paul Bocuse and my wife – she’s French so I think they’d all get along.
Advice for amateur cooks?
Find a good chef to work under. I spent four years with Marcus Wareing and it was incredibly hard work but worth it in the end. You need to be determined to work 18-hour shifts and also have a passion for the craft. Working in different countries is also a great experience as it will introduce new ideas and fuel creativity.
Guilty food pleasure?
I don’t really have one as I eat quite healthily. When I’m working I’ll be constantly grazing as I try sauces, patisserie and dishes, so I don’t really sit down to a meal. On my days off I enjoy cooking simple things such as roast chicken and steak.