Your grandfather was a cook in the army and your mother a professional chef; did they influence you to pursue your culinary career or was it your own interest?
Being surrounded by people passionate about food definitely had an impact, and I feel very lucky to have found my vocation so early on. Having said that, academia was never my strong point so the options were pretty limited. I like to think that cookery and food have always been part of my make-up.
Do your two children, Jack and Rosie, share your passion for cooking? Do the three of you ever cook together?
I’m blessed that both of my children are really into food. My son Jack loves eating in restaurants and is genuinely fascinated by food, he will try anything and has a remarkable palate. My daughter Rosie is incredibly comfortable in the kitchen, although she is young she certainly has the temperament for it and I wouldn’t be surprised if she wanted to pursue a career in food. I cook with them both but separately as they argue too much!
Do you prefer to cook classic dishes or take a more modern approach?
I was trained very classically and adore traditional French cookery both at home and at work. But we have taken on board a number of modern techniques that allow us to be more consistent and efficient in our work at the restaurant.
Can you tell us a bit more about the new dining space ‘Upstairs’ at Trinity?
Upstairs is a casual dining space that offers a daily changing menu of fresh seasonal ingredients treated simply. Upstairs is a completely self-contained restaurant, offering up small plates that we cook from an open island kitchen. If anything, Upstairs allows Trinity to be brilliant by catering to larger tables, and removing the need for group options, set menus and the like.
However, if pushed I would say that the food Upstairs is closer to the food I cook naturally, and Trinity is the premium offering.
What would you say is the best dish on the menu?
At Trinity, the crab ravioli, and the light and fresh tuna with avocado, sesame and lime are both very popular starters. Both the duck and the sea bass main courses have always had a steady following, while the salt caramel custard tart is slowly becoming a Trinity classic. Upstairs it’s harder to say, as the menu changes daily, but right now I would have to say that my favorite dish is the ‘BBQ Rump of Lamb, Monks Beard, Salsa Verde, Confit Potato’…it hits all of the right notes for me.
How does it feel to work on shows such as Saturday Kitchen, Celebrity MasterChef and Great British Menu?
I had a great time working on those programmes and was lucky enough to work with some truly remarkable people who were involved. There are many parts to being a successful restaurateur and in these times we must wear many hats. Media is really important to keep us in people’s minds—but cooking is ultimately the aspect that I enjoy most in my role. Any chance that I get to do both is a bonus.
How would you describe Trinity in a sentence?
Trinity is a fine dining neighbourhood restaurant where the food is exacting, the service warm and effective and hospitality is at the very core of its purpose.
What is one country that you would consider a must-visit for our food-lover readers?
Japan! Currently serving food way beyond any other country on the planet. The way they offer food with so much diversity and with such respect from high end to street food is both incredible and inspiring.
Do you have any advice for budding chefs just starting out on their own career path?
Choose carefully where you decide to work. Your first five years are only about learning regardless if you have been to cookery school or not. Place no value on money and working hours and work for someone who will commit to assisting your progression in the industry. Be wary of chefs who own restaurants but choose not to cook any more.
If you were on death row and were offered one last meal, what would you choose as your starter, main course, dessert and accompanying drink?
I’m not sure that the menu would matter much if I didn’t have anyone to share it with. If I were able to experience one last meal without any restrictions, it would be with my wife Vicki and our children, plus some of our foodie friends. We’d be in a château in France during late autumn with open fires, cigars and brandy to follow. The menu would read something like this: native oysters, whole crab mayonnaise, core de veau [veal cutlet] with creamed spinach and morels, custard tart, truffled vacherin cheese, chocolate, strong coffee and grappa.