Chef of the Week: Samuel Brook, Head Chef at Paschoe House in Devon

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

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I’ve always been into food. I was never afraid to try anything when I was younger and I enjoyed eating, a lot. I baked quite a lot, either with my mother or grandmother, and then I was given an opportunity to work for an outside catering company when I was 17 which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I thought that I might be able to do it quite well as a career. I’ve been lucky enough to work in some wonderful places such as the Royal Clarence in Exeter and I’ve done stages at Gidleigh Park, Le Manoir and a variety of different courses in different pastry schools.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Cooking for other people.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Chocolate, orange and hazelnut.

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

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Coloured vienoisserie has been big this year and it is something I really what to try to incorporate into our breakfast at Paschoe.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down? 
Not balancing the flavours in their dishes.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Each season has it qualities, it’s just about utilising the best of a given time.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
My interpretation of Eton Mess and the new sea bass main course – sea bass, celery, apple and celeriac jus.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I spend a lot of time reading and trying new combinations and then consulting with the other members of the team.

Who was your greatest influence? 
My grandfather.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Raymond Blanc because of his passion and excitement for food even with the smallest of ingredients or techniques. I also admire Guillame Mabilleau and Jordi Roca.

What are your favourite cookbooks?
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons by Raymond Blanc; The Elements of Dessert by Francisco J. Migoya; Larousse Gastronomique; El Celler de Can Roca by The Roca Brothers.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Damien Wager.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Paco Tapas in Bristol.