Chef of the Week: Sean Ducie, Head Chef at Oxford Fine Dining

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I’ve been with Oxford fine dining for 2 and a half years. We are an event and wedding caterer based in Weston on the Green catering a variety of events from 10 to 1000 fine dining, street food canapé parties and festivals.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
Cooking with my mother when I was a child, I loved it the smells and flavours. After leaving school I worked in local hotels in the Lake District completing a modern apprenticeship. Before moving down to Oxfordshire in 2003.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
It’s not the hours! I love the fact that I’m always learning pushing and striving to be better and being in an environment where I can be creative.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without?
Salt, butter and stunning local seasonal fruit and veg.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Got to be the Thermomix, it’s an amazing bit of kit!

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
This year is going to be all about plant based cooking and sustainable, last year I was asked for a sustainable menu for an event I think this will just grow and grow going forward!

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Trying too hard! Sometimes it’s the simple things that taste the best. Buy well and don’t over complicate dishes.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I think Autumn pretty much ticks all the boxes good earthy ingredients which are homely and tasty.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I love being able to push myself and to learn new techniques and use new ingredients I’m proud of all the dishes I do but more proud that I can keep pushing to get better!

How do you come up with new dishes
I look at what is in season pick the main ingredient then  see what will complement  try to keep it to four or five elements then start to put it together looking at the cooking process tweaking where needed until the dish is balanced, tastes good and looks good.

Who was your greatest influence?
Being a chef is taking influences from everywhere picking up knowledge from eating out, reading cook books, vlogs, forums, TV shows social media. Top class cooking is so accessible these days and it’s always good to see what everybody is up to.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Sat Bains I love his style of cooking , Claude Bosi is just amazing and I love what Paul Welburn is doing down the road from us, his food is extremely good.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Roast chicken and other stories by Simon Hopkinson, a great book!

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Kuba Winkowski, it will be great to see what happens with Kubarn this year! And, the boys at Orwells just seem to be getting better and better so will be interesting to see what 2020 has in store for them.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Davies & Brook by Daniel Humm fantastic that he’s cooking in this country and can’t wait to go!