Chef of the Week: Richard Still – Head Chef at The Deer Park Country House in Devon

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
2 years

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
Eating well as a child, lots of travel. My first head chef Graham Bedford was a master of the classics which gave me a great platform to progress. My second stint was down in Dartmouth under Mark Streeter who showed me the ropes of high-end cookery.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Working on new ideas, doing what you love.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, onions and flour.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My knife!

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Easing away from meat usage, promoting hyper local vegetables bang in season.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Forgetting the basics, does it taste good? Is it cooked well?

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
All have their merits, but like lots of chefs I’d probably pick the autumn. Great earthy flavours and a real contrast to the lighter summer style.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I made a tomato salad during the summer from our green house and it was defiantly the nicest thing I’d eaten all year!

How do you come up with new dishes?
Using seasonality as a guide, talking to the team, testing out silly ideas!

Who was your greatest influence?

Tell us three chefs you admire
Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw and Tommy Banks

What is your favourite cookbook?
On Fire by Francis Mallmann.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Gaetano Farucci who has taken over at Le Gavroche and Tommy Banks who is getting stronger and stronger.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Not that I’ve been there yet, but it’s great to see Clare Smyth doing so well with her own place.