Last Word: Andrew Wilkinson

This Month: Andrew Wilkinson, Head chef at Artisan

Let’s start at the beginning, what do you eat for breakfast?
Most days, just a coffee to perk me up before cycling to work. If I’m particularly hungry I’ll go for a nice piece of toasted sourdough with good orange marmalade. If I ever get the chance to head out it has to be full English with everything on it.

And your go-to guilty pleasure?
A family takeaway with the kids is a proper treat. We’ll have pizza on a Sunday night or sometimes fish and chips after school on a Monday.

What would be your last meal on earth?
My mother’s Sunday dinner. There’s something very special about your mam’s Sunday roasts… roast chicken with under- seasoned mashed potato.

What can I find in your home fridge right now?
My wife seems to go shopping three or four times a week so there’s always plenty in there. It’s really the essentials – vegetables, yoghurts for the kids, a few beers for me. The important things!

Which ingredient would you grab if you could only choose one?
Cornish sea salt. It’s a must-have because it draws out flavours and is used in just about everything.

You must have plenty of essential kit in the kitchen. Which is the most important?
A good Hobart mixer is really important, particularly when you’re making a lot of bread like we do here at Artisan. There’s a lot to be said for good bread and a good glass of wine too.

And your favourite cook book?
My collection is a mix of modern stuff and classics like The French Laundry and Larousse Gastronomique. My top pick right now is Nose to Tail Eating from Fergus Henderson of St John’s in London.

What’s your favourite dish in the restaurant?
I’ve always loved fish cooking so I’d be happy with a wonderful piece of turbot, which I’d just roast in some good butter. Nice and simple, packed with flavour.

Who’s the most famous person you’ve cooked for?
Si King [of Hairy Bikers] has been in the restaurant a few times, so I’ll pick him out.

What’s your most important advice?
Keep a level head and take everything on the chin. Being a chef can be hard work, the hours are long and the pressure is high, so you need to stay positive. 

What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
I’d probably be a fireman, working in the emergency services, helping people.

If you only had £10 to spend on food, what would you buy?
It has to be our big family favourite – spaghetti bolognese with garlic bread.

Whose the greatest cook ever?
The first one is my mam, who always had something home cooked on the table for the family – everything from spaghetti bolognese to steak and kidney pies, and Sunday lunches. From the chef world, I’ll say Escoffier.

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