Chef of the Week: Nick Fenlon, Head Chef at Puro Restaurant in Clevedon, nr Bristol
How long have you worked in your current restaurant?
I started at Puro in February this year having previously worked with Dom, the owner, before. We have the same goals and ambitions so the future is looking pretty exciting.
Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I started cooking with my family from a really young age and continued to enjoy it so much that I wanted to turn it into a career. I went to culinary school in Bristol where I learnt a lot of the basics, but my skills really developed when I worked at Bells Diner under Chris Wicks.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Cooking gives you the ability to create something new at any given time and you are always learning new things. Creating a dish that people enjoy is such a satisfying thing to be able to do. I also really enjoy teaching and mentoring young chefs, it’s very rewarding.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without?
Lemons, salt and garlic.
Which piece of kitchen equipment you couldn’t cook without?
Thermomix, when you work in a small team it’s like having an extra pair of hands.
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Minimalistic cooking, stripping dishes back to their core. Simple yet bold flavours. Also vegetables are becoming more and more popular. I recently experimented with a vegetarian tasting menu which opened my eyes to a lot more combinations.
What do think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Lack of consistency, arrogance and complacency. Chefs should relish the opportunities they are given.
What is your favourite time of year for food and why?
Spring, because of the huge variety of vegetables that are around. It’s a great time of year for foraging, which I really enjoy doing.
Which of Your Dishes Are You Most Proud of?
Bath Chaps, St Georges mushrooms, wild garlic oil, pigs ear crumb.
How do you come up with new dishes?
Using what’s in season. Playing around with flavours and techniques and taking inspiration from places I visit and eat at.
Who Was Your Greatest Influence?
Chris Wicks at Bell’s Diner which was one of my first jobs in a kitchen.
Tell Us Three Chefs You Admire?
Jason Atherton, Michael O’Hare and Fergus Henderson.
What is your Favourite CookBook?
Nose to tail by Fergus Henderson.
Who are the chef’s to watch over the next few months?
Tony Casey at The Bunch of Grapes in Bristol.
What’s Been Your Favourite New Restaurant Opening of Last Year?
Root at Whapping Wharf in Bristol.