Chef of the Week: Ian Mitchell, Head Chef at The Land’s End Hotel in Cornwall

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
7 years in total after leaving and returning.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I was a late bloomer in catering. I went to college late after a farming and building career start, but I made up for it and was lucky to have very skilled and passionate chefs around me. Coming from a humble background where food was scarce, I learned to cook early with little ingredients and great enthusiasm. I have a blog on all my food memories, from eating chewy liver as a toddler to heating up baked beans under the Eiffel Tower with my hippy mum in the 70’s. I learned my skills mainly from good chefs and going to college, but my people skills are from over 30 years being in the trade.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
It has changed over the years. Getting smashed in a highly stressful busy service used to give me a real buzz and a sense of belonging and self-worth. As I have got older, I feel not only a responsibility to help others by advising and guiding them, but I feel happy when I am able to help others meet their full potential in my kitchen.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Onions, spices and eggs.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
A decent sieve.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
The return to simple foods cooked well.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Trying to put their ego on a plate and not knowing their market.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Autumn, because everything is ready. You can pickle, preserve and bottle the harvest of summer.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Any of my dishes that exceed my customer’s expectations.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I look at nature for inspiration.

Who was your greatest influence?
I was influenced greatly by a lot of unknowns that really should get credit, and equally by lots of bad people that made me a better person and chef. Specifically with regards to my chef influences, it would be Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc and Jamie Oliver. 

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc and the Roux brothers.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Jamie Oliver’s Italy.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
My chefs at Land’s End, two in particular are very talented and passionate.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
To be honest, anything local I’m happy to support as I know how hard it is.