Chef of the Week: Olivier Certain, Head Chef at The Swan in Bampton, Devon

Olivier Certain

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have worked at The Swan for 2 years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for cooking came from my Grand Mother, her love of cooking French classics made me fall in love with cooking from an early age. I went to a cookery school in Marseille where I first learnt the craft, but I learn and develop my skills in every job I have had.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The best thing about being a chef is seeing people enjoy the food I create.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, olive oil and garlic.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My favourite piece of kitchen equipment is my kitchen scales; I’ve had them from the beginning and couldn’t do my job without them.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Banana Bread! I’ve seen so many posts from chefs and home bakers and it seems the on-trend item at the moment is Banana bread! I’ve even baked a couple of loaves!

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Over complicating dishes, there are classic dishes that work perfectly well and some don’t work once they have been over complicated.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Summer is my favourite time of the year, in the summer you can create lighter dishes using really fresh local produce.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
My classic bouillabaisse dish, it’s a classic from the south of France and one I love to cook.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I like to brain storm with my team when coming up with new dishes, I find the best dishes are created from experiments and mistakes.

Who was your greatest influence?
My greatest influence was Jany Gleizes, my first ever head chef after catering school, he was my mentor. He was a Michelin star chef and I owe him a great deal, as he taught me to respect the ingredients I cook with.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Clare Smyth, Marcus Wareing and Pierre Gagnaire.

What is your favourite cookbook?
I have many cookbooks so it is hard to choose! But one I revisit a lot is Larousse Gastronomique.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
The UK has a lot of up and coming talent, one to watch is Kray Treadwell, I watched him on the great British menu last year and he is a real talent.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
My favourite new restaurant is the Farmers Arms in Woolsery.