Barry Vera at The Clarendon
PUBLISHED: 11:46 06 January 2011 | UPDATED: 08:57 21 February 2013
As The Clarendon opens its doors, executive chef Barry Vera reveals the thinking behind its ambition to be 'the best restaurant in England'
Which dish on your current menu do you most enjoy preparing and why?
I love them all - the preparation, the recipes, the smells
in the kitchen and tasting the dishes as they develop.
How do you decide your menu?
Having the Best of British as our statement, I focused on the people who produce for the love of the product. We have amazing produce in this country and should be proud of it. We get a bad rap from other countries, but at The Clarendon it will be a journey for the taste buds.
Who did you train under and what did they teach that you'll never forget?
David Burke was my head chef at Terence Conran's Le Pont De La Tour, the first real restaurant I worked in. He was superb. His food was simple and creative, the ingredients on the plate spoke for themselves and he followed the seasons. He taught me the simplicity of food. Then came Marco Pierre White. He taught me food is complex too, producing the perfect sauce, cooking meat and fish to the minute for the perfect texture. It was intense but I still follow recipes we used then, changed slightly to complement what they are served with.
What is your prediction for the next food trend?
I don't follow trends; I believe food evokes memories, of childhood, family, friends and loved ones. If you sit people round a table and ask their favourite meal it will always come back to those memories and that's far better than a trend.
What has been your best culinary idea?
I am inspired by my travels, do a lot of research into food history and recreate recipes and dishes from this. We have new ideas all the time in the kitchen and we work them until we have perfected them. Top so far is more a discovery than an idea from my journeys in my Feast series, an amazing curry from the south of India with a coconut fried rice.
What is your favourite ingredient?
I love game in season - loads of flavour and something completely different. We had the MD of Billecart-Salmon Champagne over from France and made a special pheasant pie. He loved it!
What do you think of the cult of celebrity chefs?
They've been a source of inspiration for many, but they need to remember they have restaurants to run. They make it on TV and then you never see them in their places of work. Isn't that why people go to the restaurants? I know I have a TV show too but I am also at the helm cooking and meeting the guests. I also can't stand the arrogance of most celebrity chefs.
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