Chef of the Week: Kerra Buchanan, Chef Proprietor of Kerra’s Catering in Cornwall

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I set up Kerra’s Catering in 2004.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
As a teenager I worked a summer job at the Ferryboat Inn in Cornwall.  I used to get so frustrated at the lack of care and effort from some of the chefs.  Then a new chef started, Arty Williams, he was immense.  He had a true passion for food and customers experience, Very inspiring.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The fact that it is an ever-evolving career, even 25 years on I still strive every day to be the best I possibly can be. There is always new ingredients/trends/diets to learn about.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Cliché I know, but it has to be carrot, onion and celery!

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
A very sharp knife, a decent fan oven. I am not a big gadget fan!

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Clients are becoming a lot more health conscious, even for their wedding banquet.  Lots of full plant-based menus.  Couples are also requesting low carb menus, as they want their guests to get up and party straight after the dinner! Sustainability/seasonality continue to be hugely important to clients, along with the addition of food ethics.  We definitely don’t serve avocado!

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Getting stale, in their food and their attitude!  Not embracing their front of house team and understanding that immense team work really does enhance the clients experience.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Spring time/early summer.  Cornwall is bursting with fresh crab, lobsters, lamb, asparagus, early potatoes, courgettes, wild garlic… All at a time when the County truly comes alive.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
This is a difficult question as I write bespoke menus per each event.  It is not often that I get to cook the same dish.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I listen to client’s food journeys.  They may have travelled Asia, or have a particular favourite meal/restaurant, or want a menu that involves regional food from where they were grew up.

I then look at what is in season for the time of year of their event.  Then it is a case of balancing flavours/textures.  We always have to be mindful that we will be working from a make shift field kitchen, without the large Rationale’s etc.. of a standard function kitchen.  It can have it’s limitations and challenges!

Who was your greatest influence?
Probably Gary Rhodes.  His style of cooking really transformed the industry in the nineties.  It definitely took your basic pub chefs to another level!

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Michel Roux, Michael Caines and Gary Rhodes.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Mosimann’s World.  There are now many many cook books on different world cuisines.  But I will always remember getting this particular book and being truly inspired to experiment with different flavours.  I think I have owned it for 20 years, I still refer to it.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Excited to see what Chris Eden does at Gidleigh Park.  He has such a gentle and inventive touch.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Obviously, lots of plans for the industry have been delayed due to Covid-19.  However very much looking forward to Michael Caines at The Cove at Maenporth in Falmouth.