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Interview with head chef of The White Hart, Welwyn

PUBLISHED: 09:25 18 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:25 18 August 2016

Chef Chas Wheeler

Chef Chas Wheeler

white hart

We caught up with head chef of The White Hart in Welwyn

Describe your style

I like to be playful with dishes and enjoy adding new elements to classics.

How do you decide your menu?

Our a la carte menu changes monthly so I stay true to the seasons, a lot of the time taking a seasonal ingredient and building a dish around it. Sous chef Harry Woods is very inventive so our dishes are a collaboration. Also, with (co-owner and chef) Tom Bainbridge down the road at The Tilbury we constantly talk about our ideas and dishes.

White Hart, Welwyn © Trevor Coultart 2016White Hart, Welwyn © Trevor Coultart 2016

What Herts producers do you use?

I feel lucky to come from a county that has some fantastic producers. We use Bridget B’s in Watton at Stone for all our meat, Claire Daw of Dawlicious makes amazing ice cream in Hertford Heath from her own heard of Jersey cows. Stickleback in St Albans source all our fish.

Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing?

I enjoy the challenge of vegetarian cooking and I feel it is often forgotten about. We currently have a tarragon dumpling with different corn elements which is my current favorite dish to prepare.

White Hart, WelwynWhite Hart, Welwyn

What ingredient is most important to your cooking?

Sugar, because I’m not quite sweet enough.

What’s been your best culinary idea?

I’m proud of a dessert I do with homemade marshmallow as it adapts to seasonal fruit and it’s also dairy and gluten free which is ever more important.

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

You pick up things from everyone you work with. When I was younger, Big Al (Alan Mansbridge) of Passion for Flavor taught me a good work ethic and confidence in my cooking. Coming on board with Tom and Jamie Bainbridge has been a great one; working closely with two people that care as much as myself makes it a great working environment which is hard to find - and I’m glad I can call them my friends.

Next food trend?

Sharing food has been popular for a while but I think this will keep growing. If it’s snacks or a main meal, sharing gets everyone talking, laughing and enjoying food together.

What’s in your home fridge?

Hummus and cottage cheese - they are good for a late night after-service snack.

Favorite quick meal?

We make our own baked beans for breakfast service. These on toast with a bit of cheese and you can’t go wrong.

Top three tips for amateur cooks?

Work hard, try different things and always taste your cooking.

Best cookbook?

I did a chef stage at Le Champignon Sauvage, their cookbook (Essence) is one I always go back to.

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