Chef of the Week: Lee Somers, Executive Chef at Restaurant Associates in Birmingham

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
6 months (Restaurant Associates).

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
From a young age I had a passion for cooking and baking with my mother. This inspired me to start a career in catering. Along the way I have been lucky to have worked with very talented and inspirational chefs. Working for a award-winning chalet company Alikats and time on a super yacht, which definitely has developed my skills.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The freedom to be creative, hearing great feedback and being part of the development within the kitchen/workplace.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Butter, rock salt and ginger.

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

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Toasted croissant buns.

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

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Spring (although autumn does produce some great ingredients too).

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Beef Wellington.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Take ideas and add my own twist.

Who was your greatest influence?
Family and numerous people along the way.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Raymond Blanc, Massimo Bottura and Yotam Ottolenghi.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Eleven Madison Park.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Stuart Deeley, Cal Byerley and Louisa Ellis.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year? Perch (bakery/brunch).