Chef of the Week: Mark Hartstone of La Fosse at Cranborne, Restaurant with Rooms in Dorset

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
We bought La Fosse at Cranborne almost 11 years ago.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
Home grown and quality honest cooking from my mother along with two grandmothers who were both great cooks. My maternal grandmother had been a pastry cook so it must have been in the blood.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Making people happy and always learning new things.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Fresh curd cheese, soft cheese, and hard cheese. I do like cheese! Only yesterday I visited our village cheese maker, Alison, and watched her cutting the curd with my daughter. It was mesmerising.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My I.O.Shen knife set. I’m having a Porterhouse Grill delivered tomorrow so this might be my new favourite piece of kit.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Non-alcoholic drinks are on the rise with the younger generation, which is great. We have discovered a fabulous new artisan producer, Mrs B’s Kombucha.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down? 
Arrogance and not tasting their own food, though one is probably linked to the other.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why? 
There is nothing like the first time an ingredient comes into the kitchen for the late spring and early summer. I have just had my first delivery of asparagus, which is great as I am not very partial to using produce from Peru.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
The dishes that have won us the national and regional awards – the hot smoked pigeon with beetroot bhaji and fruit salsa, and the cod Bourguignon dish.

How do you come up with new dishes?
The research for our monthly supper club featuring lesser known cuisine from around the world gives fresh ideas.

Who was your greatest influence? 
Pierre Chevillard, who had the Michelin star at Chewton Glen Hotel, where I cut my teeth. I was lucky enough to be his sous chef at Pebble Beach too.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Raymond Blanc, Claire Clark and Michel Roux Sr.

What is your favourite cookbook?
The Clatter of Forks and Spoons by Richard Corrigan. I like the mix of recipes and autobiography. Corrigan cooks honest, unpretentious food

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Dan Doherty is said to be starting a new project soon. I like his style of food and he does a lot of positive work for the industry.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
James Fowler’s Terroir Tapas in Bournemouth. I love the concept and whatever venture James is involved in will be a success.