Interview: Ian Chapman, head chef at Centurion Club
PUBLISHED: 15:51 04 February 2020
The man behind the restaurant at the Hemel Hempstead golf club chatted to us about local suppliers, innovative sorbets and his culinary inspiration
Describe your style
I like to let the ingredients talk for themselves - keeping the food simple and not too complex. Deep and hearty flavours with some twists help keep it exciting and people on their toes.
How do you decide your menu?
The menu, first and foremost, is based on seasonality and trend. Then it's what ingredients excite both me, the team in the kitchen, and front of house. We do many trial runs of a dish, tweaking it until we are all happy with it.
Which local producers do you use?
We use DP Clarke Butchers in Leverstock Green. The team there are passionate and very knowledgeable about their products, all of which are sourced from local farmers. The quality is second to none.
Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing?
Slow cooked pork belly. It smells incredible at the end of the 48-hour process. Pan roasted to get the crackling crispy and served with a stunning garnish of black pudding and apricot.
What ingredient is most important to your cooking?
Seasonings in general are very important and arguably the most important is salt. Salt can bring out or change the flavour of simple foods or enhance what was already there.
Your best culinary idea?
Apple and wasabi sorbet, it has a great balance of the sweetness and flavour of the apple with the slight after taste of the wasabi. Served with an apple terrine and blackberry gel to finish off the dish.
Who did you train under and what did they teach you?
One that sticks out is Ashley Wells, who is executive chef at the InterContinental London Park Lane. He taught me different culinary methods of slow roasting and molecular gastronomy. He inspired the kitchen culture I like to work in now.
Prediction for the next food trend?
People are becoming more environmentally conscious about the food they eat and will choose a more flexitarian style diet with plant-based foods, less meat and more healthy options.
What's in your fridge at home?
I do have quite a sweet tooth, so no shortage of chocolate.
Favourite quick meal?
Can't go wrong with grilled chicken and tomato sauce on a penne pasta, with plenty of cheese.
Top three tips for amateur cooks?
1. Continuously taste the food while cooking.
2. Don't be afraid to experiment, food is about expression.
3. Be careful with your timings.
Larousse Gastronomique. It's a great collection of knowledge about a lot of foods.
Find out more about the Centurion Club here.