Chef Q&A: Lukasz Konior, The Old Barge, Hertford
PUBLISHED: 12:50 16 October 2017
The Old Barge, Hertford
The head chef at the Hertford riverside pub restaurant on chicken kebabs, the importance of travel to cooking, and all things homegrown and homemade
Describe your style
Modern British classic. Good old-fashioned home cooking. School dinners – but like you’d get at Eton!
How do you decide your menu?
We change our menus biannually and have a daily specials board. I love the freedom of creativity that both myself and the team have, with the best seasonal produce in mind, a clear focus on tradition and one eye on the future, while also catering for vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
What Herts producers do you use?
Carter and Sons butchers, Mikes of Sawbridgeworth for fruit and veg, and S&J Shellfish – all local to us and offering fantastic fresh produce as well as being able to source slightly more unusual ingredients. We also like to use a variety of local ales in various dishes.
Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing?
I love our chicken kebabs – such a simple dish, but full of textures, flavours and colours. We serve them with sweet potato fries and a Moroccan inspired cous cous – they look amazing when plated. Our salmon with dill sauce and chicory and fennel salad (above) is also a real show stopper.
What ingredient is most important to your cooking?
Seasoning, seasoning, and did I mention seasoning? So important to truly define a dish, yet it often gets overlooked.
Your best culinary idea?
We, as a team, are focusing more and more on our produce. We have our own allotment just minutes away, so you can’t get fresher produce. Keep your eye on our specials board for homemade fruit sorbets, raspberry wine, fruit ciders and something involving a lot of courgettes!
Who did you train under and what did they teach you?
I am Polish and cooking in our household was a family affair. My love of food and cookery started from as young as six, with help from mamma and babcia. From there I have travelled all over and I’m always picking up tips from interesting places.
The next food trend?
Who can tell? The world is becoming more gastronomic daily. Personally, we will be focusing on natural, healthy, homegrown and home cooked food.
What’s in your home fridge?
Beer and wine. I’m a hardworking man, I need my down time!
Favourite quick meal?
Top three tips for amateur cooks?
1. Find a good recipe and follow it.
2. Have the right equipment.
3. Never give up – practice makes perfect.
Mildreds: The Vegetarian Cookbook for veggie inspiration, and Ruth Watson’s The Really Helpful Cookbook – it covers all the basics.