Chef of the Week: Christian Ponte – Head Chef at The Elephants Head in Lamberhurst, Kent

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have worked 5 months at my current restaurant.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for cooking was engraved into me when I was born from my mother and my grandmother, and nearly everything I learnt was from them. I achieved a higher skill set from learning at school followed by experiences like working with Michelin star chefs.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I like having the freedom of creating dishes from imagination to reality, I also love the feedback I get from my clients as it makes me feel like I have worked hard for a reason.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Garlic, Onions and Love.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Spoon as I use it to taste all my dishes.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
English European Classical.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Presumption and not knowing your own limits.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Summer because there is a lot of fresh food like fruits and veg as I love the Mediterranean diet, the days are long, you can eat outside and you get opportunities for BBQs.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Champagne and Strawberry Risotto, strange combination but amazing taste.

How do you come up with new dishes?
By reading books, magazines and by following new trends brought to me by the chefs I have previously worked aside. I try to also keep the same tastes together but presenting them with different shapes.

Who was your greatest influence?
My Grandmother, she raised me since birth to when I was 15 years old and taught me the basics.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Marco Pierre White, Michael Caines and Massimo Bottura.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef – Massimo Bottura.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Graham Squire and Luciano Monosilio.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
An Italian Style sea food spot in Tooting’s Broadway Market called Fish Bite opened by Carmelo Carnevale President of the Italian Chefs in UK.