Chef of the Week: Josh Hughes – Head Chef at The Bridge Arms in Canterbury, Kent

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I’ve been working with the company since 2018 at The Fordwich Arms and took over as Head Chef at The Bridge Arms in November 2021.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I’ve always enjoyed being in the kitchen, but my passion really grew when I got my first kitchen job as a KP. Then I realised how much I suited the environment and things went from, there developing skills along the way from the bottom up.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Being surrounded by people who share your enthusiasm.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, lemon and dashi.

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

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I think we’re seeing Chef’s playing with textures differently; looking more and more at things like savoury jellies, chawanmushi etc.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Summer. Stone fruit is so versatile and can offer so much to the menu at that time of year. There’s also the option to preserve for use throughout the year.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
It’s hard to pinpoint a specific dish I would be most proud of. I’m always looking to push myself and improve upon anything I’ve developed previously so would say I’m probably more proud of learning new skills, passing them on to my team and applying them to new dishes.

How do you come up with new dishes?
As the seasons change, I usually have a particular ingredient that I’m looking forward to using and tend to start with 2 flavours I’d really like to combine. From there I can think of what other ingredients and techniques I can use to bring the dish together.

Who was your greatest influence?
My greatest influences as a young chef were more artists than chefs. Coming from that background in education it was interesting for me to look at 3-dimensional designers when developing my dishes.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Alain Passard, Merijn van Berlo and Rene Redzepi.

What is your favourite cookbook?
The Noma Guide to Fermentation.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
I think Spencer Metzger is one to watch right now and will be for years to come.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Unfortunately, I’ve not had much time for get to new restaurant openings in the last year, but I’m really excited about what Cal Byerley & Sian Buchan are doing in Northumberland at Restaurant Pine. I’d love to find the time to visit and dine with them.