Chef of the Week: Craig Edgell – Head Chef at Buoy & Oyster in Margate, Kent

Buoy & Oyster

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have been at the Buoy and Oyster for nearly a year and a half.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for cooking came from my dad, he is a chef, my family have food and farm back ground. I learnt my skills at Thanet college (now East Kent College) and kitchens in London and the South East coast.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The produce and working with people to put your dreams and visions on the plate. I speak with suppliers on a daily basis for the best ingredients to make our dishes the best they can be. I’m very lucky to have an amazing kitchen team, and the support and backing from the owners too. I love to teach and pass on knowledge from what I have learnt over the years to my chefs.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Seaweed salt – uplifts the dishes with a added touch of the sea.
Bisque – a good bisque in a predominantly fish restaurant is a must.
Compound butters – we make a selection of butters that aid our cooking (eg shallot butter, seaweed butter & nudja butter).

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Control Induction stove – changed the way I cook. It’s efficient, clean and an amazing piece of kit to cook on without a doubt.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Sourdough and Seacuterie.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Not having enough faith in your team. I maybe be a Head Chef, but in service you are only as strong as the chefs you train. If you don’t put the time in with your team, give them your time and show them what you want there is no point. Respect your team you will have a forever gratitude. Family is everything home and work.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Autumn, its the time we start cooling down from the summer and the deeper dishes come in to play. The surf and turfs and the deep heavy flavours, the comfort food season is coming. Eating food that puts you in that warm food cuddled coma.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Sousvide hake loin, white bean cassoulet, cep puree, wild mushrooms, crispy cavolo and nudja.

How do you come up with new dishes?
As a team, throughout the season we talk as a team putting ideas down on paper, myself and Simon (chef owner) sign the dishes off. We all have a large input and a sense of ownership of the dishes, which ensures every dish that leaves the pass is personal to us and perfect every time.

Who was your greatest influence?
Nathan Outlaw with out a doubt the chef I idolise.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Nathan Outlaw (Knowledge of fish)
Tom Brown (Making fish cooking sexy)
Raymond Blanc (classical chef god, best lemon tart recipe EVER!)

What is your favourite cookbook?
The whole fish cookbook – Josh Niland (The bloke is insane!)

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Tom Brown, Cornerstone – I’d like to think he will get his Michelin star soon.
Robert Taylor, Compasses Inn – He is taking food to another level.
Will Devlin, The Small Holding – From ground to plate proper food with passion.

What’s been your favourite restaurant openings over the past year.
– Firepit at The Cave Hotel – John Bingley & Andy Holden are doing incredible things!
– The Compasses Inn, Crundale, Kent – Robert Taylor is someone you don’t want to miss.
– Bottega Caruso, Margate, Kent – Harry & Simona have a passion for food and produce any chef could not admire they put family into food.
– Jessica Leah Cateering, Margate, Kent – Jess has such a passion for food, she is your go to for outside catering and just all round tasty food!