Chef of the Week: Mark Chapman, Executive Chef of Season + Taste Group in Bristol

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Almost 4 years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
Classic family story my mum. And the team working in a restaurant near the beach in Australia.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Constant challenge for improvement. The rush, adrenaline and the satisfaction of making someone enjoy a plate of food.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Onions, pepper and butter.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Mortar and Pestle, or the other way round as you guys say here!

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Root to shoot. Food which reduces surplus, veganism not just for diet but performance. Artisanal or heirloom produce whether it be local or not. More food with thought which cares about its sourcing policies.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Not drinking enough water and taking breaks. The simplest things make the biggest marginal differences everyday.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Autumn. Can really fatten up the food with butter. Game and mushroom season is on!

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Managing 5 restaurants gives me a lot of opportunity to be proud of many dishes. In 2019 Season + Taste opened up Masa + Mezcal our newest Mexican restaurant. Ive been pretty proud of the dishes coming out of this kitchen. Our ceviche options like prawn aquachile or seabass ceviche really test a skill of a chefs seasoning so if this is spot on its pretty good, something to be proud of is a chefs palate.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Instagram. Cook book. And eating out a lot. Also having a lot of solid cheffie friends who can suggest ideas alongside the ones you create yourself really bounces the creativity.

Who was your greatest influence?
Had quite a few over the years. Most of which are head Chefs from Sydney Australia like Martin Benn from Sepia, Daniel Puskas from Sixpenny or Sam Moody from the local Bath Priory.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Nieves Barragan, Marcus Wearing and Martin Benn.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Currently The Whole Fish Cookbook by Josh Niland.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Josh Niland – Internationally and Peter Sanchez – representing South West UK.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Masa + Mezcal.