Chef of the Week: Elly Wentworth, Sous Chef at Lucknam Park

How long have you worked at your current restaurant? 
Two and a half years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for food came from working in a local country pub as a pot washer and getting asked to help the chef. That was my first insight in cooking and I loved it. I then went to Plymouth City College to study for an NVQ Level 2 in professional catering and also took an apprenticeship at St Mellion Golf Club in Cornwall.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Seeing fresh produce daily, and working with a great team.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Butter, sea salt and thyme.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without? 
A palette knife.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment? 
Classics with a modern take.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down? 
Inconsistency and over-complicating things.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Autumn as it’s the start of game season and full of rich flavours.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
My signature dish of glazed turbot, seaweed macaroni, verjus and cucumber butter sauce. It scored ten out of ten in my first round on MasterChef: The Professionals.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Classic flavour combinations, just with a modern flare.

Who was your greatest influence?
I have too many to name, and they know who they are. But Chris and James Tanner were my first Head Chefs and I experienced my first feelings of working in a proper kitchen.

Tell us three chefs you admire. 
My Head Chef Hywel Jones, one of the best chefs in the country, a role model and a huge mentor in the last two years or so at Lucknam. Working three years for Richard Davies was a big influence – no one has shown me how to prep fish and meat like him, and how to develop in a kitchen. Also Simon Hulstone taught me a different style of cooking which has helped me through my career to date. Thank you to you all.

What is your favourite cookbook?
I’m not going to lie, can’t remember the last time I read any cookbook. But my favourites would be The Square cookbooks by Phil Howard.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Allister Barsby at The Grove in Narberth and Charles Smith, Head Chef from Lords of the Manor.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Michael Caines at Lympstone Manor.