Chef of the Week: Galton Blackiston, Chef Patron of Morston Hall in Norfolk

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have been Chef Patron at Morston Hall for 28 years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion came originally from cooking at home with my mother. I am the youngest of 5 boys so she was always baking and cooking. I had a market stall in Rye selling cakes, breads, biscuits etc all from mums kitchen, then an opportunity came up in the Lake District to train as a Pastry Chef, and that’s how I started.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Cooking allows one to be creative and follow the seasons. I also love the fact that I’m still learning so much every day I step into the kitchen .

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Sea salt, butter and rapeseed/olive oil.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Got to be my knives!

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
The making of fantastic sourdoughs in kitchens, provenance of ingredients has never been so important. A lot of oriental influences in cooking.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
A lot of young chefs lose the focus of just cooking great food but seem to want to cook for Michelin stars. That’s the wrong attitude, cook for your customers firstly, they are the most important.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
It’s got to be this time of year, the spring, as winter in this country drags on for ever. Now we look forward to local asparagus ,English new potatoes, crabs etc.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I don’t have one favourite but I love good desserts or puddings. A great lemon tart stands the test of time but having said that we have fantastic produce and am proud of all our dishes.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Really it’s Greg my Head Chef, and the rest of the kitchen who give ideas. Greg and I almost weekly discuss dishes for the menu.

Who was your greatest influence?
Two people sadly no longer with us John Tovey and Michel Roux.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Difficult one as there are so many – Anne-Sophie Pic, Sat Bains and Clare Smyth.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken and Other Stories – a legendary book.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Gareth Ward, Niall Keating and Stephen Edwards – they’ve all been around a while but are doing great things.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
I don’t get out often but there is an eclectic restaurant opened in Norwich where our old Head Chef is – No.1 Cromer.