Chef of the Week: Nat Tallents at The Box Kitchen Bar in Plymouth

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I started in January with Fosters at the new museum in Plymouth – The Box but we didn’t open due to covid until September!

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I worked front of house from 14-21. And just thought the chefs had more fun than I did so I quit y job and became a commis in a local restaurant. 2 years later I was head chef and I haven’t looked back! The 3 chefs I worked with then had all been college lecturers at some point and they taught me so many skills, I couldn’t of asked for a better start really.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I think for me it’s the act of feeding people. I love to cook but not really for myself, I like to make people happy through food and I feel that is my purpose in life.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Cornish sea salt, thyme & Worcestershire sauce.

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

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I guess the only food trend I’m into is about zero food waste, I really like looking at ways to reduce and interesting recipes for these things.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
I think shouting, the days when chefs need to shout have long gone. I like calm, respectful and happy kitchens.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Autumn! There’s just something about braising, roast root vegetables etc. It’s not quite Christmas but food starts getting heartier.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I’m not sentimental about my dishes, I can’t say I have any signatures as I like to evolve at every opportunity. Nothing stays around too long before I have new ideas.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Reading, eating, nature. All these things inspire me.

Who was your greatest influence?
Marco Pierre White’s book white heat kind of set me on the path. I have his face tattooed on my arm and when I met him he signed his initials on it so I had that tattooed on too!

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Sabrina Gidda, Claire Smyth, Ruth Hansom. More women in the industry!

What is your favourite cookbook?
Never trust a skinny chef by Massimo Bottura.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Harriet Mansell.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
I haven’t been out to eat! Such a different year for us! But hope to get to Lyme Regis to Harriet Mansells at some point.