Chef of the Week: Simon Wood, Chef Proprietor of Wood Restaurant in Manchester, Chester & Cheltenham

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I opened WOOD Manchester in August 2017.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I’m heavily influence by my childhood memories being around my Grandma, I’m mostly self taught but after winning MasterChef UK I spent some time at Marcus Wareing Restaurants, Theo Randall at the Intercontinental, and at Simon Rimmer’s Greens Restaurant.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I do what I love doing every single day, cooking and food is my life, my passion and I’m lucky enough to be able to cook for people in my restaurants daily.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Butter, Salt and Pepper.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My I.O. Shen Knives, they’re my tools and I couldn’t do my job without them!

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I’m a huge fan of traditional cooking, so I focus on that.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
One too many ingredients, know when to stop…

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Springtime with Jersey Royals, Wye Valley asparagus and lamb, it’s all incredible. 

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
There are a couple, but my MasterChef winning final dessert, Citrus Tutti-Frutti, this has been a catalyst for may conversations, its inspired by my Nan, but we have it many forms now from lollypops, its original form and soon to be in a gin liquor after forming a partnership with the Liam and Mark at Didsbury Gin and Jenny Campbell from Dragons Den.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I just look at what is good, speak to suppliers, research, think about provenance, seasonality, flavour, my style and what can make it WOW, if you can get tat then you are halfway there.

Who was your greatest influence?
Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay, but there are so many great chefs, I like to look around and try to take the best bits from anyone who inspires me.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Eleven Madison Park or White Heat.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
There are too many to choose, Tom Parker at The White Swan in Fence is a friend of a friend, his food is incredible.