Chef of The Week: Alan Jones, Head Chef at Clevedon Hall

How long have you worked at Clevedon Hall?
I’ve been here two and a half years. Before that I was freelance for a while and head chef at Cowley Manor before that.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for food and cooking came from my mother and I started my carer at the Marriott Bristol then ventured up to London working for Marco Pierre White, Richard Neat and in Michelin stared restaurants such as Foliage under Hywel Jones.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
There is always something new, something to improve and it’s very satisfying when you make someone happy through food.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without
Crab, fish and passion fruit.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
At the moment, prominently doing events, it has to be my amazing Frima multi-cooker. You can steam, poach, fry, roast, seal, water bath, sauté and pressure cook in it. It’s amazing.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
They do what they have been taught in the past without thinking or adapting and using their common sense. Things have changed and moved on and we need to do what is right now.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Summer – I do love all the English summer vegetables and fruits.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Slow roast belly of Buxton farm pork, caramelised apples and pork popcorn with chantenay carrot purée, creamed potato and cider jus .

How do you come up with new dishes?
I start with the ingredients, what’s in season, what’s new. I make a list and then build dishes around that.

Who was your greatest influence?
Marco Pierre White is my all time influence but I learnt different qualities from different chefs. With Richard Neat, it was all about self discipline. Hywel Jones is all about refinement. I like bringing all that together and picking the bits out I think are correct from each chef.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Based on my favourite meals ever – Philip Howard at The Square, Angela Hartnett at Murano and Tom Aikens.

What are your favourite cookbooks?
John Campbell ‘Formulas for Flavour’, David Everitt-Matthias ‘Essence’ and Thomas Keller ‘The French Laundry’ – these were the groundbreaking books I grew up with.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Ellis Barrie at The Marram Grass in Anglesey and Alex Betts at The Chequers in Bath.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Not new opening but the arrival of new chef Alex Betts at The Chequers in Bath.