Chef of the Week: Clive Williams-Jones, Chef Proprietor of The Bristol Cookery School

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Having suffered spinal issues over the past few years I left the restaurant business and set up Bristol Cookery School in May 2019 where I am Chef Patron.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My earliest memories of food like many are from my mother, who was a phenomenal cook. The whole process of simple ingredients being transformed into something greater than the sum of their parts always fascinated me. However, my first career was as a lighting director for film and T V. It was in my twenties that I took myself through the Grand Diploma Cordon Bleu in London to get me up to speed in the industry. Having finished there I started working for Caprice Holdings under Mark Hix for 3 years.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Training the next generation not only in how to be the best chef they can be as well as developing relationships so that the ‘difficulties’ of a chef’s life can be navigated effectively. I have always found that it’s the relationships in a kitchen that define its success.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Good salt, lemon and oils.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My knives (or generally anything that doesn’t break or malfunction just as you need it!).

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
That food intolerance, allergies and preferences such as veganism have always been ‘catered’ for, whereas now they are an integral part of the dining experience. Also the reversion to simplicity.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
The belief that kitchens are a top down environment when in reality it is precisely the opposite. That way the focus is on nurturing and improving our industry rather than just maintaining it.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Tough one. I would say spring/summer mainly because of the shift in gear regarding ingredients and the freshness that brings after several months of cold early dark nights.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
We worked on one this winter which was an oxtail ravioli, pickled julienne of heritage carrots in a reduced veal consommé, green peppercorn oil and grated horseradish.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I have been fortunate to have travelled extensively and for me inspiration is borne out of experience, perseverance and trusting those around you to give honest feedback.

Who was your greatest influence?
On a personal level my father but professionally Giorgio Locatelli.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Giorgio Locatelli, Fergus Henderson and Paul Ainsworth.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Made in Italy, Food and Stories by Giorgio Locatelli.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Niklas Ekstedt, his passion for ingredients is infectious.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Rather than naming a particular restaurant I wanted to say what an incredible industry we have. We are currently experiencing the greatest hardship in the hospitality industry in memory. This is going to be one hell of a rough ride but chefs are a resilient breed and I know that by supporting each other though these tough times we will, as we always do, get through it.