Chef of the Week – Iain Sampson, Executive Chef at The Bear Hotel in Crickhowell, Wales

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
A few years prior to 2015 then I spent 6 years in The States. Family circumstances brought me back and a chance meeting with Steve (the owner) I re-joined The Bear in 2020.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My mum was always cooking and baking, she had her own catering business.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Creativity and making people smile through food.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt/seasoning, butter, quality ingredients!

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
A sharp knife.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Food goes around and classics are classics for a reason, not seeing so many foams these days.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
They don’t taste enough!

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I love Autumn and the start of the game season, everything is very earthy and comforting.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I’m proud of any dish that are enjoyed and bring a smile to their face.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I like to cook by committee, I am lucky to have a real mixture of cultures in the kitchen and when you put minds together you get some interesting fusion ideas.

Who was your greatest influence?
Mike Kitts probably my biggest influence as a lecturer at college, he left to return to the trade as sous chef at The Ritz Club London, I was lucky to land a job with him there. He is now Head of the Cookery School in Dubai.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Very difficult to name just three, there are so many but Marco Pierre White, Thomas Keller and Tom Kerridge.

What is your favourite cookbook?
I have many books but White Heat is probably the book that influenced a generation of chefs.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
I might be a little biased but two young people to watch for the future, one front of house and one a chef – Bethan Sampson and Matt Sampson – yes my kids, both working hard and I’m sure will go on to achieve more than I ever will.