Chef of the Week: Ross Hunter, Head Chef at Backwell House nr Bristol

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Four months.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I’m self-taught, mostly through trial and error. My partner can tell you the mad ideas I’ve had at midnight where I’ve stayed up through the night to get them right. My passion came through watching the chefs work when I worked front of house as a sixth form student. I wanted to get involved from then.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Having full autonomy on a menu. It literally is a blank canvas.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without. Butter, Fussels rapeseed oil, Maldon sea salt.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without? Vac-pac.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Retro classics with a modern take – strawberries and cream; rhubarb and custard etc.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Inconsistency, time-keeping, over complicating things.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Autumn for the deep colours, rich flavours and the beginning of game season.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Either my sirloin, ox cheek, alliums, king oyster and beef sauce or the strawberry cannelloni with Cheddar strawberries and meringue.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I think of classic flavours and see what I can elevate, modernise and recreate.

Who was your greatest influence?
It’s got to be Mike Riordan, the executive chef at Aztec Hotel & Spa, as he pushed and nagged me until I came through and listened and worked like a chef.

Tell us three chefs you admire: Michael O’Hare, Thomas Keller and Alex Atala.

What is your favourite cookbook? Thomas Keller ‘Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide’.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
I think Elliott Lidstone at Box-E in Bristol is the up and coming star of the Bristol food scene. I’ve heard nothing but good things.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Tare in Wapping Wharf in Bristol’s Harbourside.