Chef of the Week: Dean Banks, Chef Patron at Haar in St Andrews, Scotland

Haar Dean Banks

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have worked at Haar restaurant for just over a year. I launched Haar Restaurant in St Andrews in April 2019.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I always wanted to be a chef from a very young age and I found my true passion whilst working for Rick Stein in Padstow. I have learnt my skills all over the world from 3 Michelin star restaurants to street vendors in Asia. I am always learning and now I feel Instagram has become the latest tool to learn new techniques.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I enjoy every morning when our produce comes in. Getting to handle, prep and serve the best produce in our Country is what every chef thrives for.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Lobster, chilli and coriander.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
100% its the new TM6 Thermomix.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
During lockdown the new food trends are defiantly @ home boxes from restaurants all over the country.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
I think a common mistake is over complicating dishes. Let the produce speak for itself.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Late Summer, good weather and less storms allows the boats out more often. This time of year we will have our Local Boat from St Andrews land fresh lobster every morning and we can serve them to our guests within an hour of them coming out the sea.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
My smoked lobster and mirin butter sauce. It all started from Andrew Fairlie’s smoked lobster and lime butter. When Andrew passed away I wanted to create this dish in honour of him and put my own twist on it. Its our biggest seller in the restaurant and during lockdown I sold more than 3,000 of them for home delivery. A very special moment in my career was on Andrews anniversary of his passing his wife, parents and children dined at Haar and ate my lobster. I could only wish I could have cooked it for the legend himself.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I create new dishes from memory’s, it can be re creating the flavours of a Thai green curry that I’ve enjoyed watching the sunset in Koh Phi Phi to child hood memories of eating my Nana’s Banoffee on my birthday.

Who was your greatest influence?
My greatest influence must be Rick Stein, his style of bringing world flavours together using local produce is word for word what I do in my restaurant.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Tommy Banks – not only do we share the same amazing last name I think what he does is truly amazing! The sustainability of his restaurant is something everyone should strive to achieve.

Adam Handling – I admire Adam more as a business man. He is an amazing chef however what he has achieved for his age is incredible and drives me to be more of an entrepreneur.

Paul Ainsworth – after meeting him filming Masterchef I reckon he is one of the most friendly and kind chefs in the country. He scribbled a few words on a menu for me once and to this day it lives on my pass.

What is your favourite cookbook?
To be honest I couldn’t tell you the last time I picked up a cookbook or even used a recipe. Instagram is basically an endless cookbook now and I will find myself on there most days checking out my favourite chefs from around the world.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
The chefs to keep an eye out for are Michael O’Hare as I reckon he will become one of the biggest names in the UK. Oli Martin another finalist from Masterchef, I reckon he will get a star in the next guide.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Adam Handling Chelsea, what a location and what a place!