Chef Q&A: Marcus McGuiness, Auberge du Lac
PUBLISHED: 20:33 07 April 2014 | UPDATED: 20:33 07 April 2014
The head chef at Auberge du Lac, Brocket Hall, Welwyn gives an insight into his kitchen
Describe your style Modern British. I grew up in Oxfordshire in a family of cooks. I have always loved food and am as British as they come! I try to use seasonal ingredients and local produce where possible. I really enjoy taking simple ingredients and turning them into something that tastes great.
How do you decide your menu? I go with the seasons and basically choose whatever takes my fancy.
Do you use Hertfordshire producers? I try to source my ingredients locally. Where possible, I use Hertfordshire-based suppliers and have found an excellent sour dough from Dolce Forno Bakers in St Albans. Duchess Oil in Sawbridgeworth produce a great rapeseed oil that is a great base for some of my dishes.
Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing? I really enjoy making the Yorkshire rhubarb savarin that’s on the winter menu at the moment. I very much enjoy pastry work and spent the first three of my formative years in pastry and love to get back to my roots.
What ingredient is most important to your cooking? I am going to have to say three ingredients for this – fat, sugar and salt. Why? Because they make everything taste better. No chef could work without them.
What’s been your best culinary idea? I couldn’t pin down a particular idea but stumbling across foraging has changed my cooking. I love being able to go out for a walk, find wild herbs, plants and mushrooms and take them back to the kitchen and make something extraordinary out of them.
Who did you train under and what did they teach you? I first trained under Gus Ashenford at Chavignol in Chipping Norton. He taught me the classic French techniques that I enjoyed using on local British produce. My time with Claude Bosi and Hibiscus in London taught me finesse in finishing my dishes.
What’s your prediction for the next food trend? I don’t really have an opinion on food trends and don’t follow them. I am more interested in the seasons and what makes great tasting food.
What’s in your fridge at home? Bottles of baby milk! I have a 12-week old-daughter at home.
Favourite quick meal? Fajitas. And if I am cheating, it has to be Old El Paso.
Top three tips for amateur chefs? Come prepared with lots of passion and enthusiasm. Get yourself a set of really sharp knives. Use your common sense!
Best cookbook? French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David