Chef of the Week: Stuart Fox – Executive Chef at DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester Piccadilly

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
2 years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I remember watching Keith Floyd with my father on the tv and was amazed by his passion for cooking. I then went to work in a small family restaurant whilst at school to get some insight and remember after school I would run to the restaurant ready to get stuck in, I guess that’s where it all started for me.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The buzz of working flat out as a brigade and watching people’s passion and enthusiasm grow day by day. In this industry no two days are ever the same especially in hotel kitchens.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Eggs, Onions and garlic.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Too many to choose from but I would really struggle without my vac-pac machines.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I think the last few years have seen an increase in rustic hearty food returning to menus, simply cooked using bold flavours and great ingredients something Gary Usher’s restaurants do really well at.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Seasoning correctly & prioritising mis en place. Kitchens are busy places and being able to think logically about how you prepare is key.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
For me it’s the summer months, I love cooking outside on the barbecue and in wood burning ovens. Using the freshest fish and vegetables I can get my hands on.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Like most chefs working closely with my suppliers is key for any restaurant. Having recently launched a new restaurant concept in Manchester which is very much centred around premium ingredients.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Most of the dishes are usually tweaked from previous  ones and only really change with what’s available at the time and keeping up to date with current food trends.

Who was your greatest influence?
I was 13 years old and used to go to a local restaurant after school every day. The owner Franco was a friend of the family and used to push me hard all the time, Not just in cookery but also understanding the fundamentals of running a business, he taught me skills which I still use today.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Pierre Koffmann – Keith Floyd – Tom Kitchin.

What is your favourite cookbook?
3* Chef.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Adam Reid – Paul Foster – Simon Wood.

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