Chef Q&A: Darren Curson of Sheene Mill
PUBLISHED: 11:11 27 February 2018
Scotts of Cambridge Photography
The head chef at the historic Melbourn restaurant and wedding venue near Royston on healthy dishes, a varied background and the importance of lemons
Describe your style
My style is dictated by local produce wherever I work and the best possible ingredients, such as Scottish langoustines – the preparation is intense but the execution and presentation on the plate is simple, with taste and combinations paramount.
How do you decide your menu?
Seasonality and locality. Also I’m quite health concsious, so while it’s good to indulge I also look at the nutrients and diet options to offer the client.
Do you use local producers?
We work with local farms and suppliers Fieldgate Nurseries for fruit and veg, Bury Lane Farm for fruit, veg and meat and Cambs Orchard for juices and drinks
as it’s important for everyone to use the produce around us rather than import. As a family-run restaurant we are part of the community and take pride in our local produce.
Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing?
The desserts. It’s nostalgia I suppose. I always baked at home with my grandma.
What ingredient is most important to your cooking?
Lemon. It enhances most dishes along the way.
Your best culinary idea?
A starter I did for a Keech Hospice Care gala dinner with some of the country’s best chefs. It opened a lot of doors for me and was great to be a part of a charity event like that.
Who did you train under & what did they teach you?
I have always sought variety – wanting to learn all aspects of the trade. I trained at the exclusive South Lodge Hotel in Sussex with Tim Neal being my overall main influence in cooking and management. He taught me discipline and my core cooking skills. I have also worked at a 330-bedroom 5-star multi-outlet, Relais and Châteaux properties with Michelin stars, and four rosette restaurants. They have all taught me different skills. To me, a wedding breakfast, a fine dining meal or an afternoon tea are just as important as each other.
What’s in your fridge at home?
Cooked chicken, brown rice, lemons, and a pork pie is my guilty pleasure.
Favourite quick meal?
Cheese and marmite toasty.
Top three tips for amateur cooks?
1. Seasoning is paramount.
2. Lemon and fennel powder enhances white meats.
3. Don’t take tips from Come Dine With Me...
Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook Daniel Humm and Will Guidara