Chef of the Week: Chris Cleghorn, Head Chef at The Olive Tree at The Queensberry Hotel in Bath

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Just over 5 and half years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I’ve always loved  good food, but I found my true passion whilst working at some amazing restaurants over the years.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
When you see your delivery of amazing products come through the door, you cant help but get excited.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Lemon, salt and olive oil.

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

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I wouldn’t say it’s a trend, but I notice much more cooking going back to the classics. Showing off the classical techniques and doing them exceptionally well.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Moving around too much after only doing 6-8 months in each job.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Each season has its own hidden gems of ingredients which chefs love to use. But I would have to say end of summer, beginning of autumn. Ingredients such as stone fruits, berries, apple, pears, game and of course the white and autumn truffles.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Every dish on the menu. But if I had to choose, I would say the smoked eel, celeriac, apple ,lovage and cheddar cream sauce.

How do you come up with new dishes?
The beginning is simple, we start with seasonal produce. Then go through the flavours that compliment those ingredients.

Who was your greatest influence?
When I worked for Michael Caines I learnt about the really small details you wouldn’t notice, but have a huge effect on the end result of a dish. He would take the time to show everyone exactly how he expected every detail to be done.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Daniel Clifford – his food you can’t help but get you excited about cooking and his recent book echoes that vision.

Sat Bains – his style of food and balance of dish is certainly something I admire to even get close to achieving one day.

And of course Michael Caines. He taught me the importance of how to run kitchen/business, whilst still producing high quality food.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Daniel Clifford’s Midsummer House Cook Cook.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Allister Barsby at The Grove at Narbeth and Robby Jenks at The Vineyard in Newbury.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Not sure how long it had been open but I ate at Bulrush restaurant in Bristol by chef George Livesey. I had an amazing meal there and not surprisingly it just achieved a Michelin star.