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Chef Q&A: Phil Thompson, THOMPSON, St Albans

PUBLISHED: 17:52 19 June 2016 | UPDATED: 17:52 19 June 2016

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The head chef and restaurant owner gives an insight into his kitchen

Raspberry and melon sorbetRaspberry and melon sorbet

Describe your style

Classic French and British-trained using modern techniques.

How do you decide your menu?

My menu is influenced by working with our long-standing, established and trusted suppliers. I am focused on the ever-changing seasonal ingredients available to select the best British produce.

Phil ThompsonPhil Thompson

What Hertfordshire producers do you use?

We use the baker Dolce Forno, my ‘veg man’ is Sparshott and The 3 Brewers for a nice drop of ale, all are based in St Albans and are a pleasure to work with. During peak seasonal periods I’m lucky enough to receive deliveries from my father-in-law’s allotment. There have been occasions when every vegetable served on a Sunday lunch has come organically grown from his allotment. The boys and I love to go down there on a day off for some team bonding and marvel in nature and his amazing produce. He grows specialist produce for me at my request, such as courgette flowers, some of which are the best I have seen!

Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing?

An impossible question. I enjoy working with new seasonal ingredients to create dishes with well-balanced flavor combinations, showcased in my tasting menu.

What ingredient is most important to your cooking?

I think the answer to this is not what but who and how. I have an amazing brigade who are full of passion and enthusiasm and love to try new ideas and techniques.

Best culinary idea?

Opening up my own restaurant. It means having the freedom to do what I want and getting direct feedback from the guests, good or bad. As an independent restaurant our success is measured by the enjoyment, pleasure and feedback of our guests. This is not only vital to the longevity of our business but also the satisfaction of our team, their morale, and delivering a real sense of value and purpose in what we do.

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

I worked with some amazing chefs, too many to mention all of them. But to name a few – Paul Gaylor, the Galvin brothers, Marco Pier White, Jean-Christophe Novelli and not forgetting all the chefs in these brigades. We all pushed each other as a team to get the best overall result. Leadership, support, guidance, coaching and mentoring were key to our success. This is very much like my management style today.

Prediction for the next food trend?

I feel cooking is becoming more and more simplified, rather than the gimmicks that can go with food, which is great to see, both as a chef and someone who very much enjoys good food.

Quick grill

What’s in your fridge at home?

Yoghurts and Peroni – I am never there!

Favorite quick meal?

Poached eggs on toast fresh from our chicken, Ezmarelda, in the garden.

Top three tips for amateur chefs?

1. Don’t run before you can walk.

2. Write everything down, from prep lists to recipes and methods.

3. Learn from your mistakes.

Best cookbook?

White Heat by Marco Pierre White

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