Chef of the Week: Ken Symons of Oliver’s in Falmouth, Cornwall

How long have you worked at Oliver’s?
Nine years as Chef Patron.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I got my passion for cooking from my gran and my skills from the Green Lawns hotel in Falmouth, where I took over as Head Chef.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef? 
The excitement of a new season and trying new Cornish produce.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My control induction suite.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment? 
The endless dietary requirements which are becoming more and more prevalent.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down? 
Over working their dishes.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why? 
Autumn/winter – proper hearty comfort food, warm fires, sensational local game that just screams out to be utilised.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of? 
My chocolate caramel bar, fennel ice cream, peanut brittle and fennel pollen. I first came up with this dish three years ago and presented to 30 chefs at a dinner. It blew most of them away.

How do you come up with new dishes? 
I have no idea – dishes just pop into my head when looking at produce.

Who was your greatest influence? 
My very first employer, Arthur Williams, taught me very strong classical basics. He was a hard man but what he taught me has stuck with me for 38 years.

Tell us three chefs you admire 
Gordon Ramsay, Charlie Trotter and Andrew Dargue – I have had the pleasure to work with all three of these fantastic chefs.

What is your favourite cookbook?
I really don’t have a favourite book but, like most chefs, have a large range of books that I thumb through.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months? 
Bruce Rennie of The Shore in Penzance – his time will come. Luke Selby, who won the Roux Scholarship in 2017, is on a roll and a name to watch this year. Tom Brown – his new London restaurant Cornerstone will be a must-visit this year.

Photo credit: David Griffen