Phil Thompson of Auberge du Lac
PUBLISHED: 11:45 06 January 2011 | UPDATED: 16:00 20 February 2013
Newly starred by the mighty Michelin, Phil Thompson of Auberge du Lac shares his thoughts on the art of being an executive chef
Which dish on your current menu do you most enjoy preparing and why?
Rump of veal with Madeira-braised snails, porridge oats and sage. It's something different and gets a good reaction from the guests.
How do you decide your menu?
The seasons dictate the menus here and that's backed up by the fantastic suppliers I have who constantly let me know what's good on the market.
Who did you train under and what did they teach that you'll never forget?
I've worked with some great chefs over the years, but two that stand out are the Galvin Brothers, Chis and Jeff. I worked with Chris at the Orrery in Marylebone for a year and a half - a fantastic experience; a lot of the chefs I worked with have gone on to their own places and won Michelin stars, so that's credit to Chris and the quality of the people he had. I worked with Jeff at L'Escargot in the Picasso Room and that was like finishing it all off. Chris teaches you to see value and respect for the food and is a great man manager; Jeff is a phenomenal cook, so you learn just by watching him. Then there's (Jean-Christophe) Novelli, a real character. He taught me to grow up. I was 24 and he promoted me over 15 or 16 chefs, a lot of them older than me, there were customers coming in, people paying a lot of money, and they wanted good service and a good standard of food.
What is your prediction for the next food trend?
I don't know about a trend, but it seems a lot of new places opening up at the moment are letting the cooking and ingredients do the talking instead of trying to impress customers with pretty patterns on a plate.
That sounds good to me.
What has been your best culinary idea?
Opening my mind to all the new techniques of cooking being used now to modernise the menu. I used to be very set in my ways after being classically taught.
What is your favourite ingredient?
There are two, for different reasons. For versatility, I would choose an egg - you can do so much with it. For luxury, it has to be scallops. They are a beautiful gift from Mother Nature. They are sweet, they have a freshness about them and I love preparing and cooking them.
What do you think of the cult of celebrity chefs?
Some of them make me cringe, but most of them are entertaining to watch and are try do something positive for the industry and the public.