Chef of the Week: Scott Munro, Senior Sous Chef at Ducie Street Warehouse in Manchester

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I had worked as Head Pastry Chef for around 18 months and have recently been promoted to Senior Sous Chef.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I didn’t have an immediate passion for professional cooking, I started part time in a local restaurant as a pot wash for some extra cash when I was 15 and I fell in love with the atmosphere. I was so proud when asked to be a Commis Chef that I threw myself into it full time. From there I took a Commis Chef job at The Midland, before saving up and travelling to France to work when I was 18.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Being a chef has offered me great opportunities, I’ve travelled extensively and competed in various competitions. What I enjoy most is seeing the spark of creativity by the junior chefs in our team and helping them bring their imagination to life on a plate.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Maldon salt, Netherend butter and Burford brown eggs.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
As a baker the on piece of equipment I couldn’t live without is our standalone Hobart planetary mixer, from making brioches to 48-hour sourdough it is never out of use.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Especially here in Manchester, its exciting to see chefs take more of a focus on seasonal British produce. Rediscovering and reinventing techniques to preserve and utilise every part of the ingredient. We are seeing Michelin level neo-nordic methods being integrated into Mancunian culture to produce imaginative spins on our classic home-cooked comfort dishes.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
In the industry, there is still this culture that to be successful you must be this angry, loud character that conforms to the stereotype that we work 90-100 hour weeks. This shouldn’t still be the case in 2021, a happy, supportive environment is one that retains staff.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Christmas, around wintertime for me is where chefs are at their most creative. Fresh produce is scarcer, so we get to see the fruits of our labour in terms of preserves and ferments started earlier in the year. We become braver with menu ideas because we know the average customer eats out more during that time, and from a baker’s perspective we get to start producing more seasonal breads and cakes, and the kitchen smells much more festive.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Being a Manc and having a soft spot for desserts, I’ve created the Cream of Manchester dish which for me tries to embody the soul of the city. At its core is a Wild honey bavarois, preserved lemon gel and malt biscuit. It’s had many variations over the years as my skills have changed, but I have always tried to keep it on menu as an homage to my home.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Most often, an idea for a dish will be sparked by an experience. Usually something I’ve tasted or smelt that made me feel happy or comforted followed by this intense desire to recreate it for the table. I will often consult suppliers as to what is coming into season, and we will work with the rest of the team to develop the dish. The question at the centre of every dish we produce is, will this make the customer happy.

Who was your greatest influence?
I’d been a chef for over a decade before deciding to venture full time into pastry. I will always attribute that decision to my old boss and friend Darren Jackson, Head Chef of Crowded House in Bury, who encouraged me to follow my passion and has supported me through the rest of my career.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Alain Passard, Rene Redzepi and Nathan Outlaw.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Reading should be the heart of every great chef, its hard to pinpoint one cookbook but I’m currently reading the Walled Garden by Eddie Shepherd.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
I would definitely keep both eyes on the boys at Higher Ground MCR and their opening at Flawd Wine New Islington, something tells me they’re about to do something big.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
I’ve fallen in love with the reopening of my local favourite pub, The Blackfriar. It couples inventive dishes, quality local ales with a very Instagrammable setting.