Chef of the Week: Mark Lawrence, Chef Patron at The Pastry Chef in Berkshire

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Just over a year.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
Without being rude, my mum was not the best cook so I wanted to improve, also my home economics teacher at school.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The people and watching people smile when they eat my food.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
As a pastry chef, butter, cream and eggs. As a hot kitchen chef, salt, pepper and butter.

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

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Amazing presentation, sustainability and local grown produce.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Putting themselves down.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Spring of course, new soft fruits, beans, peas, herbs, tomatoes…so many ingredients.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
A simple elderflower panna cotta, white chocolate and strawberries.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Laying in bed at night and wondering what I can pair ingredients with, then trying them in my home commercial kitchen.

Who was your greatest influence?
Daniele Galmiche, Michel Roux Senior and Junior, and about 100 others!

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Daniele Galmiche, Jordi Rocca and the Roux family.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Anarkia by Jordi Rocca.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Joe Fox, Elizabeth Passedat and Rose Ashby.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Not so many in the last year, but Monica Galetti at Mere.