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Chef Q&A: Claude Paillet, Bricklayers Arms

PUBLISHED: 12:01 31 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:37 10 November 2015

Charcuterie board, Bricklayers Arms

Charcuterie board, Bricklayers Arms

Archant

The executive chef at the Flaunden country dining pub gives an insight into his kitchen

Scallops, Bricklayers ArmsScallops, Bricklayers Arms

Describe your style

Traditional French with a British twist.

How do you decide your menu?

Daily impulse with knowledge of the market and seasonal produce availability.

Do you use Herts producers?

We buy as much as we can daily from local suppliers. Among them are Langley Butchers in Kings Langley who source good quality local meat and Game Direct of Great Missenden for local seasonal game. Our honey is from Kings Langley and we source seasonal fruits and vegetables from local farmers. We also go to Covent Garden market once a week to look at new seasonal products. Our fish supplier, Browns Seafoods, emails us direct from the boat every evening to let us know fish availability from the day’s catch.

Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing?

I particularly like preparing fish dishes. When we receive fresh fish in the morning it’s a challenge and exciting to source the right ingredients from the vegetable market to make a new daily special with just a few hours to go before the service. Also, starters are always fun to work with as we can play a lot with colours and textures.

What ingredient is most important to your cooking and why?

The egg – such a simple ingredient and so very versatile

What’s been your best culinary idea?

We started smoking our fish 11 years ago from an old steamer oven that was out of use. We use oak or apple wood to do the smoking as the smoke naturally sweetens the fish and we brine our fish only with rosemary sea salt and sugar (no preservatives). In a few weeks, we are looking forward to receiving a new smoker designed and made by local craftsmen in oak and ironwork.

Who did you train under and what did they teach you?

A French chef in France called André Chatelard taught me everything I know, from chocolate making to butchery and food techniques.

What’s your prediction for the next food trend?

Chefs are focusing more on meat cuts that have fallen out of use – like using dairy cows. As they are older and well fed, they have great flavour but have a chewy texture if cooked in a traditional way. Therefore we cook these differently using slow cooking or flash grilling. I make an effort to use British ingredients and revisit old British dishes that I present for 21st-century tastes.

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