Last Word: Simon Hicks

This Month: Simon Hicks, Head Chef, The Lord Crewe Arms

What do you eat for breakfast?
Generally nothing. If I do have something though, I’ll have Vegemite on toast – you take the boy out of Oz, but you can’t take away his Vegemite! I have three trips to the Nespresso machine too. My other choice would be poached eggs on toast with lashings of Tobasco Sauce.

And your go-to guilty pleasure?
Avril Lavigne, the black bits off a roast joint, and chocolate bullets (chocolate-covered liquorice).  

What would you choose for your last meal on earth?
I’m a simple guy, so some good salted butter on toast and a chai latte, which I can’t get enough of.

What’s in your fridge at home today?
I’ve just come back from holiday, so it’s full of salami; we have great sausage at home in Oz and I have to have my auntie’s homemade apricot jam from back home.

If you could have only one ingredient, which would it be?
It changes with the seasons, but flour is vital. We bake a lot
of bread and I love making sourdough every day.

Of all the dishes you make, what’s your favourite?
At the moment we’re picking some fantastic mushrooms from the woods around Slaley, Northumberland. In London you could charge £50 for a plate of these things and we’ve got baskets of them on our doorstep.

What’s your favourite cook book?
I have a big collection in The Gatehouse at The Lord Crewe. My go-to is the Tartine collection of books from Chad Robertson. His bakery in San Francisco is legendary and his books are fantastic. Aussies love funky stuff on toast and there’s a huge brunch culture in Melbourne – I love things that fit into that kind of food.

Who’s the most famous person you’ve cooked for?
Working at Scott’s in Mayfair for two years, I saw a lot of famous people in the dining room. One night we had Margaret Thatcher sitting across the table from Lionel Richie and Adam Sandler; that was pretty cool. At The Lord Crewe we’ve cooked for the Rothschild family.

What’s your most important piece of advice?
It’s one for the older fellas like me – we need to keep the kids keen. Coming through as a chef is tough, so we need to keep guys in the profession. Being a chef is a fantastic lifestyle; I’ve been one for 23 years and worked in four countries, but you need to enjoy what you’re doing and enjoy working with the people around you.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
Growing up in central Australia, I always wanted to be a truckie, driving road trains across the country.

If you only had £10 to spend on food, what would you buy?
Am I allowed to pick Haribos, Pringles and Diet Coke?

Who gets your vote for greatest cook in the world, ever?
Kevin Gratton, who has been a big part of the Hix and Caprice empires; he ran six restaurants at once with a passion and ease that was incredibly inspiring.

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