Chef of the Week: Michael Nizzero, Executive Head Chef at The Bath Priory

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Since January 2017.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My dad was in the industry, he was maître d’ in a palace in Bruxelles for 40 years. Also, when I was a toddler, my childminder used to love cooking so we always use to do some recipes together. That is my first memory.

Where did you work before The Bath Priory?
I did an apprenticeship in Bruxelles in a three Michelin star restaurant called Jean Pierre Bruneau. I then did two years at One-o-One restaurant in Knightsbridge, three years at Pisces (the best seafood restaurant in Dubai) before working four years as sous chef at The Waterside Inn in Bray. From 2011-2015, I was executive head chef at Hostellerie la Briqueterie in France, where I gained and maintained a Michelin star. I was then premier sous-chef at The Ritz from 2015-2017, where we won a Michelin star.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The constant challenge to please the customer, manage the team and create new dishes.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without
Citrus, salt, celery.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Vita prep.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I like to look at what French chefs do in Paris, especially three Michelin star chefs.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Taste, taste, taste – we never taste enough!

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I love autumn for mushrooms, game and squashes. I just love autumn in general.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
My poached sea bass, seaweed, fennel and Champagne emulsion – it’s my signature dish.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I look at seasonality, talk to my suppliers, then think about flavours I like, memories or old classic French recipes. I then get inspired and create something that’s tasty and interesting and then try to make it look good.

Who was your greatest influence?
Michel Roux senior for everything he thought me and the trust he put in me at the Waterside.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Michel Roux senior, Pascal Barbot and any old school three star chef in France – people like Bocuse, Troisgros, Guerrard – I have a lot of respect and admiration for what they have done for the profession.

What is your favourite cookbook?
I have loads but Michel Roux’s last collection are easy to use and a nice inspiration for professional and home cooking.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
I probably think Michael Caines is about to settle nicely in his new restaurant and something very nice is about to pop out.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
I think Araki is a nice and interesting handcrafted restaurant, also the new Heston concept is quiet nice, I had a good meal there.