Chef of the Week: Mark Freeman, Executive Chef at Hilton Cardiff in Wales

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
8 years

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
Watching my mum as a child she baked and I went to work in London at the age of 18 which gave me a good grounding.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
You never stop learning and you get to deal with new ingredients all the time.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without?
Salt, fish and meat.

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

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Small plates, plant based foods and consumers looking for more sustainability and ethical welfare of fish and animal products.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Thinking it’s an easy career to have and not realising you only get out of it what you put in.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Winter time, more warming and hearty foods, slow cooked meats which can more tasty if cooked correctly.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Everything I put on a menu I’m proud of.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Eating out a lot and constantly discussing ideas with my kitchen team.

Who was your greatest influence?
Ian Jack & Paul McDevitt, my first ever Executive Chef and Sous Chef and Park Hotel in Cardiff. Paul took me under his wing from the age of 16 and took me to London and then Scotland to work with him.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Jason Atherton, Marco Pierre White and Rick Stein. 

What is your favourite cookbook?
Marco Pierre White – White Heat

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months
-Sam Leatherby at Hilton Park Lane in London.
-Tom Heaney at Heaney’s in Cardiff .
-Grady Atkins at Paysan in Cardiff. 

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Heaney’s in Pontcanna, Cardiff.

Hilton Cardiff