Chef of the Week – Andrew Birch, Executive Chef at Lainston House in Winchester

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Since July 2017. Before that, I was Head Chef at Fishmore Hall in Ludlow.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My grandfather was a very keen gardener and I grew up helping him so we had lots of fresh vegetables. Since I have been a chef, I’ve worked with some amazing chefs and they have all had an influence on my cooking.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
All chefs will say the same but it’s all about when you have a busy service, everybody pulls together and you deliver tasty food to customers.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, butter and lemons.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Frying pan.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Chefs seem to be going back to basics, cooking things on the bone, not using water baths as much as they were.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Thinking the industry is easy. I don’t think it’s portrayed correctly on TV – it’s glammed up a lot.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Spring is the best time of the year for some of the UK’s best produce including asparagus, peas and lamb.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
We do a cod dish with bacon, onion, seasonal mushrooms and mustard sauce – I think it works all year round.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I eat out a lot, have lots of friends in the industry and employ 20 chefs who all talk about food so new ideas are always coming up.

Who was your greatest influence?
My mother was a good cook so I learnt a lot from her.

Tell us three chefs you admire:
David Everitt-Matthias, Phil Howard and Shaun Hill.

What is your favourite cookbook?
All three David Everitt-Matthias books and the two Phil Howard Square books.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Matthew Worswick at The Latymer Pennyhill Park.