Chef of the Week: Ian Gibbs, Executive Chef at The East Close Hotel, Christchurch in Dorset

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I’m currently Executive chef at the East Close Hotel, Christchurch, Dorset, during my 6 month project with the property I have been developing the food operation, achieved a high 5 * rating with EHO, improving the reputation of the business and enjoying be involved with the ongoing Walled garden project.  That is very exciting!

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I have always enjoyed cooking, from developing my craft under Peter Griffiths MBE through the International Salon Culinaire in London and the Midlands. I’ve always loved using Local produce, and learning from producers, all get me very excited about my food and to respect these precious ingredients.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Now there is a question! The job is hard, lets not kid ourselves, but the freedom to develop as a person and develop your team is very rewarding. Working with beautiful ingredients and teaching about them really is job satisfaction.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Shallots, Garlic and Butter. Love em!

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
The hot water machine for my Tea!  

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Pop up restaurants selling street food is really exciting at the moment, I was asked to help with a pop up launch in London late last year and was Brilliant fun!

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Winter, Root Veggies, Slow cooking and big flavours.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I find I’m proud of every dish, some work brilliantly well, others are a disaster, either way you learn and it gives you the drive to improve. It’s the old saying ‘you’re only as good as your last plate’.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Dishes develop after an ingredient is presented, to me that’s when the creative bit kicks in.

Who influenced your career
Peter (from above) the obvious ‘big guns’ Ramsey, Pierre White, Koffmann, Ladines. I’m loving Dan Doherty’s food at the moment, its bonkers and fun, but also friends locally, people who I ask advice and trust like, Alex Aitken, Chef Patron Harbour Hotels, Colin Nash of the 3 Tuns Bransgore.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Another tricky question as I have quite a few! For sentimental value i’m going to go with my very first, the orange edition go Practical Cookery (which I still have) its battered, written all over, friends phone numbers in and the cover has fallen off. While it is a basic recipe book, it was the first I learned from and brings back wonderful college memories.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
I’ve not been out to much recently to go and be nosy but a friend has just opened a street food restaurant in Bournemouth and it’s a lot of fun, very professional and laid back.