Chef of the Week: Sam Mcclurkin, Head Chef at The Dog At Wingham Nr Canterbury

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I began working for The Dog in May 2017. I have been working for the restaurant for four and a half years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for cooking began when I started training as a chef. I wasn’t aware I was yielding a huge passion for cooking until college unlocked it out of me. I didn’t know  what I wanted to do when I left school soI took a chance to train as a chef and just threw myself in the deep end. Then I never looked back. I trained at East Kent College – Broadstairs.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I mostly enjoy the creative aspect of cooking. I love drafting up new dishes and plates of food from what  can seem like initially,  just a small idea. Dish development can be really exciting. Witnessing the full process of a dish going from its blueprints to a ready to serve plate of food, is really fulfilling.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Butter, salt & lemon/lime. If you wanted a fourth, I would say chilli. I adore chilli.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
I one hundred percent couldn’t do my job to the level I currently work at without the Thermomix TM6. It assists the kitchen in many, many ways. The machine has multiple functions and purposes. The TM6 even has a pair of scales built in. We at The Dog are lucky enough to have 2 of them. Just in case one breaks down.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I am noticing throughout the current British food scene a lot of Asian influence. Exciting, east worldy products like Nori seaweed, miso & fermented chilli pastes like Gochujang are being utilized in unexpected plates of food. Chefs are experimenting with flavour combinations that havent been seen before. More and More “street food” is popping up all over the place. I believe this style of “Grab and Go”  was initially seen more in busy countries.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
My favourite time of the year for food would be as spring as emerges. The excitement of fresh young spring vegetables and the arrival of lamb (my favourite meat) really pushes my imagination to the max.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of an original pork belly dish I created when I first became head chef. 12 hour cooked pork belly, malt glazed pig cheek, pommery mustard creamed potatoes, pickled mouli & burnt spring onion. It was a knockout dish and constantly sold out.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I sit at my lap top and research for hours. I cleverly pair ingredients together that pair well with seasonal cooking methods. I also utilise ingredients that excite me at the time of my new menu.

Who was your greatest influence?
It would be very hard to pinpoint who influenced me the most. I’ve worked alongside many great chefs and restaurant managers. I would find it difficult to nominate just one of them. As they’ve all individually shaped me into the chef I am today.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Ben Crittenden, Nathan Outlaw and Tom Brown.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Larousse Gastronomique.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Daniel Marreiros.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?