Chef of the Week: Canon Vas, Head Chef at The Berry Head Hotel in Brixham, Devon

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have been the Brasserie Head Chef of The Berry Head Hotel since August 2015.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for cooking came from my grandparents back in Goa.  I started off peeling onions in a 5-star hotel in Goa after leaving catering college and worked my way up.  In 1999 I joined P&O Cruises and sailed the seven seas until 2007 when I moved to the UK.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I enjoy being creative with the food and mixing Indian and British flavours.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Sugar, onions and garlic are my three must haves.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My Robot Coupe – it speeds up my work!

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Street food seems to be up and coming at the moment – People want to sit and share food whilst enjoying conversations without the formality.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Attitude – Sometimes we don’t know it all even when we think we do.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why? –
Summer time – Food always feels more colourful and fresh when the sun is shining.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Without a doubt my Goan Fish Curry – A firm favourite in Brixham!  It has been the talk of the town and always sells out.  It’s a dish that is from my Indian heritage and is cooked with love no matter how many times I make it.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I get my ideas from watching cooking programmes and then see how I can recreate my version with what I have in my kitchen already.

Who was your greatest influence?
Chef Lawrence D’Souza, my Executive Chef onboard P&O Cruises, he was the turning point in my career. He taught me how to work clever, multi task and time management.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Chef Aminul Choudhury – an Asian Chef I have known for more than 8 Years. James Martin – I was lucky enough to work for him when I worked onboard Ocean Village Cruise Ship, he picked to be in his brigade because of my Indian cooking and Rick Stein – I share a love of seafood just like him.

What is your favourite cookbook?
I don’t use cookbooks – I create my own version of dishes by using the basics and then adding my own herbs and spices to get the flavour I want – I never weigh anything, it’s a talent of a chef knowing how much of a sprinkle or pinch of something you need to make it taste just right.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Anyone who truly cooks from the heart.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
A night out is rare but I have since discovered an Indian restaurant in Paignton called East Meets West – The food is delicious and not your typical Indian restaurant.  The menu is small but with a variety of meat fish and vegetable dishes – It must be good as my wife had no complaints for the first time ever!