Chef of the Week: Maisy Downing, Head Pastry Chef at The Mere Golf Resort & Spa in Cheshire

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
18 months.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion started while growing up, as a young girl baking with my grandmothers. This then inspired me to go to pastry college and start an apprenticeship.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I enjoy being a chef because I can create, explore and master techniques and styles, and further my abilities.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Vanilla pods, cream and fresh fruit.

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

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Seasonality and local ingredients are always at the forefront of menus, and with such good local produce, I enjoy that being a staple rather than a trend.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Timings are a crucial element in any chefs’ arsenal.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Summer! The influx of fresh berries are wonderful and make dishes so much more enigmatic.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
A lemon and thyme tart with blackberry textures and blackberry sorbet.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I look at what is in season and look on the internet to get some inspiration. Then, I slowly piece it together part by part until I have a finished product that not only looks good but is well-balanced and delicious.

Who was your greatest influence?
My grandma.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Mary Berry, Amaury Guichon and Cherish Finden.

What is your favourite cookbook?
11 Madison Park.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
The Lucky Cat in Manchester.