Chef of the Week: Chris Archambault – Executive Chef at The Headland Hotel in Newquay, Cornwall
How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Just shy of four years.
Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I’ve always been a glutton, the path continued on to gourmand. I learned much from the mothers of my youth, chefs I worked with in Ireland and London, and I’m a voracious reader of all things culinary.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The kitchen is one of the last bastions for twisted pirates that must truly be themselves, day to day. We don’t need to ‘put on a face’ for our day jobs.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Garlic, lemon, quality fats….be they butter or oil.
Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
At home my Nutri-bullet gets put through paces the manufacturer never dreamt of and I’m a dab hand with the slow cooker. My Kamado Joe rules the summer. In work, due to the complexity/big numbers…Thermodyne is king.
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I’m in favour of the return to simpler food. Simpler dining rooms. Less smoke and mirrors. Emphasis on flavours. I don’t mind someone being clever…but it needs to taste great and be there for a reason.
What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Jumping the gun. Due to us having to think so fast, move so quickly…don’t forget to be measured and thoughtful in your approach. I speak from a lifetime of mistakes…
What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I like the start of any new season. It’s great to slide into the autumnal warmers of game/hearty fare, equally you’re so delighted when spring hits and everything is new, fresh, lighter.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I like to think I can work magic to please anyone as long as the ingredients are top notch. I’d challenge anyone to a risotto-off or fish cookery.
How do you come up with new dishes?
Collaboration and editing with others and when I get my hands on top produce. To be honest, my role is now more managerial, I have head chefs to create new dishes. I’m the editor.
Who was your greatest influence?
Andy Kress. A legend amongst men. He taught me a lot about the business and how to survive London.
Tell us three chefs you admire
Marco Pierre White, Thomas Keller and Matt Christmas.
What is your favourite cookbook?
Anything by Simon Hopkinson, The French Laundry and Faviken.
What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Haven’t a clue. Right or wrong, I feel no need or desire to keep my ear/eyes to such things. I get a flash feed of images via social media that keep me tipped in enough.