Executive chef, Alnwick Castle & Garden
Let’s start at the beginning, what do you eat for breakfast?
My daughter Ailsa is two-and-a-half and her favourite breakfast is eggs and soldiers, so I tend to have the same. By the time we’ve fed the pigs, chickens, horses, dogs and cats at our farm there’s not much time for anything else.
And your go-to guilty pleasure?
A donner and shish kebab from Baba in Newcastle. I’ll drive from Bellingham to town just to get one.
What would be your last meal on earth?
I’d have the tandoori mixed grill, onion bhajis, keema naan and a pint of Kingfisher from The Valley in Corbridge. I’ve been going there for 16 years and love the place.
What can I find in your home fridge right now?
There’s a lot of pickles and preserves. We had a good harvest of apples and I’ve made a lot of conserves, chutneys and jams over the last few months. Our larder has pheasant, partridge and duck in right now too – I never come home from a shoot empty handed.
Which ingredient would you grab if you could only choose one?
Lescure Butter from France – it’s a must in my kitchen.
You must have plenty of essential kit in the kitchen. Which is the most important?
A Thermomix. Once you’ve had one in your kitchen, you can’t be without it.
And your favourite cookbook?
I have a copy of Maw Broon’s Cookbook which has been passed through our family and I love going back to it.
What’s your favourite dish to make at home?
Salt and chilli pepper pheasant – it’s a family favourite.
Who have you cooked for over the years?
I’ve cooked for the Royal family and had a lot of famous faces in restaurants where I’ve worked. It’s an honour to being cooking for the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland at Alnwick.
What’s your most important bit of advice in the kitchen?
Don’t overcomplicate it, let the produce stand out. One of the first pieces of advice I ever received at Queen Street under Terry Laybourne was: “You’re not an architect son, you’re a cook”.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
I’d be working in the country, possibly as a gamekeeper or farmer. If I’d stuck in at school, I would have been a vet.
If you only had £10 to spend on food, what would you buy?
A gyros on the beach in Zante.
Who is the greatest cook ever?
My mam. She cooked for six or seven every night and her farmhouse style of cooking is unbeatable. Her rice pudding is still the best I’ve ever had.