Chef of the Week: Andy Holden, Head Chef at The Fire Pit & Cave Hotel in Kent

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Five months.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for my cooking came from my mum and my nonna. My skill came from watching them cooking in the kitchen then taking my passion to Thanet college to learn more.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Being around great ingredients every day and making dishes that bring a smile to people faces.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Any type of spices, flour and water.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My Thermomix.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Not knowing when the balance of a dish is wrong.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Summer, love the fresh, bright ingredients and the mount of produce that is around that time of the year.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
BBQ whole sea bass, coriander pesto and Thai coconut sauce.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Seeing an ingredient or technique that gets my brain racing into how I can make a dish out of it.

Who was your greatest influence?
Most people have a person but my greatest influence is food itself, whether I’m watching it, cooking it or eating it, it inspires me to want to do more with it to explore as many different types of ingredients as I can.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Nathan Outlaw, John Bingley and Tom Brown.

What is your favourite cookbook?
The River Cafe Cookbook

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
James Cochran and Ben Murphy.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
1251- Twelve Fifty-One.