Chef of the Week: Hayden Groves, Consultant Chef

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Like so many industry colleagues I was made redundant following an 8.5yr stint at foodservice provider BaxterStorey, as Executive Chef.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
Like most from an early age it was watching my mother who is an excellent family cook, then it was family holidays in France, college and after chef mentors at an early age. Elements of self-teaching through reading books and watching anything food related be it TV or attending craft shows.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
When you are in the moment and cooking an adrenaline fuelled service and are getting lovely feedback from the dining room, to seeing a junior chef progress through the ranks and know that part of your time and energy and enthusiasm has helped them progress. its an industry that you never stop learning.

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

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
A vitaprep blender, nothing blends as smooth- and of course a spoon, if you can’t taste you can’t cook

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Back to simplicity allowing the ingredients to really shine, not too much noise or frills for the sake of it, sourcing the best and treating it with respect.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
They fail to taste their own food, and forget to season, some focus purely on the presentation at the expense of flavour.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I enjoy all the changing seasons as they bring fresh ideas and change, however I love the return of autumn and the abundance that it brings.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Anything that brings pleasure to the diner, food is subjective and its about that moment and who it’s for, I know it sounds a bit of a cop out, however over a career of 30 years it would be near on impossible to pick.

How do you come up with new dishes?
If I need to think of something be it a dish or have a work challenge, more often than not ideas and or solutions often come to me when out on my bike, just allowing those moments of a clear head and probably slightly out of breath at the same time!

Who was your greatest influence?
In truth, my family

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Phil Howard, Gary Jones and Cyrus Todiwala.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Am I allowed to say my own?! and 100% of the sale goes to the charity I am patron of, Cure Leukaemia – you can purchase the book here.

Of course that one aside, its again impossible, I have a library of so many and depends on what kind of recipes or style of food I’m looking for, White Heat, French Laundry to a book on all things spicy my good friend Cyrus Todiwala.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Anyone that’s been on GBM generally has a big foot up with a media following to match, Luke Selby another former NCOTY winner and his brothers are due to open; Ruth Hansom is another one such talented cook, I have known her since her very first competition when she was just 14, she has just opened Princess of Shoreditch it her food as always looks stunning.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Norma. I love Ben Tish’s cooking, unpretentious and truly delicious, served in a relaxed environment.