Chef of the Week: Rob Howell – Head Chef at Root in Bristol

Root in Bristol

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have been at Root since we opened in August 2017.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I feel like both my passion and skills were learnt along the way in my career, feeding of all the amazing chefs I have had the opportunity to work alongside day to day.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The chance to work with people that are very like minded and the fact you can just keep learning how to cook every day no matter how long you’ve been doing it.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
First press rapeseed oil, sherry vinegar and Henderson’s relish.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
A good old spatula!

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Its a pretty uncertain time right now but I feel like we will see some big changes in the industry and all for the good I hope.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Not asking for help.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Every season has its perks but its got to be late spring heading into summer, that’s when there is produce everywhere, you really don’t have to do much to it.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I wouldn’t say I have a favourite as such, I am proud to be serving a vegetable lead menu at Root. Its great to have a team that cares like I do and have amazing ideas of their own.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Often it will start with a favour combination or ingredient and then we go for there, it can be from something eaten, or seen or just an idea. Usually involves a lot of back and forth with the team.

Who was your greatest influence?
I feel like all the chefs I have worked with have made an impact on my ideas and cooking but it would have to be Josh Eggleton as I did work with/for him for over 8 years now.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Too many but love seeing people make positive changes to the world with food and having a good time along the way.

What is your favourite cookbook?
My most read/used has got to be Nathan Outlaws, any of them. Not only full of simple, delicious, clever food but a great amount of knowledge on fish and produce.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
He’s already made himself known and some how seems to be getting better and better and that is John Chanterasak aka Anglothai. His food is like nothing I have tasted or experienced before and it needs to be known about.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Osip has got to be my favourite recent opening, I’m lucky enough to live not too far from it in Somerset and it is a real pleasure to have Merlin so close, cooking some truly outstanding food.