Chef of the Week: Mark Walsh, Head Chef at The Pint Shop in Birmingham

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

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I’ve been in hospitality all my life, my father was a chef and my mum worked front of house, so it’s ingrained in my blood really. I’ve worked in quite a few places up and down the country, most of my training was in county house hotels at 2-3 rosette level, then to The Castle Hotel in Taunton, Somerset as Senior Sous Chef was part of the team to help achieve the star and maintaining for 5 years. Then most recently I opened the new Harvey Nichols Restaurant and Champagne Bar in Birmingham.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The buzz of service, and making the guest happy with what we cook.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
At the minute coal, salt and garlic.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Our Mibrasa as if I didn’t have that, I would be so in it, the whole menu at Pint Shop is written around the grill.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Street food in causal dining.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Losing focus and not being disciplined.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Autumn is my favourite time of the culinary year, I like how its that change from all the bright vegetables and berries to the wind fall fruits and the natural drop off foods. I like to use those in dishes, but I will try and use, pickle and store as much of the indigents from the previous seasons

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
The onion bhaji scotch egg.

How do you come up with new dishes?
We would get together and get a seasonal chart and start brainstorming through various ideas and combinations.

Who was your greatest influence?
Gareth Blackstock LOL! Probably my father.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and Daniel Clifford.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Couldn’t name one, but top three are White Heat, Nico and Ma Cuisine.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
There is quite a few coming through the ranks now, but a few to watch out for would be Mark Poynton to see how the MJP restaurant comes along in 2019, and then there’s Louisa Ellis as the private chef business is looking very successful.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
There’s quite a lot I’ve wanted to try and still haven’t had the chance to go because of the craziness of this year. Baked in Brick is really good, but I’m dying to get to Aktar Islam’s Opheem but now he has opened another restaurant called Legna so they are on my list and I’ve been saying to Jamie at Harbourne Kitchen I’ll be over soon!