As lovers of luxury, nothing tempts us like a spot of divine dining, hand crafted with the finest locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. So, we caught up with Executive Head Chef, Stephen Tuke at Flat Cap Hotels, to talk about his foodie favourites…
What inspired you to become a chef?
I have the best memories of my Grandma cooking. She never left the kitchen and I was always nagging her to try some before it was done, I was always so impressed by how effortless she made everything she cooked look. Cooking to me is all about memory, whether it’s enjoying the time you spend cooking it, or the time spent with friends and family eating it. She always inspires my dishes and she has made me realise that an extra knob of butter isn’t going to kill you but it can transform any dish!
Your favourite ingredient?
I have a real love for local produce. We have a farmer behind The Vicarage who supplies our lettuce and I use it with everything I can; fresh and crisp with a mild flavour. I love cooking with ingredients you can grow, this year the chef’s garden has been overflowing with tomatoes and cucumbers. It’s great that we have a story behind everything we cook with.
Your favourite dish on the menu at Barristers Restaurant and bar?
For me it has to be the brûlée starter of duck livers, sweet apricot chutney and black truffle with ciabatta. The feedback we have received so far has been outstanding.
What do you enjoy most about working in the kitchen at The Courthouse?
Barristers Restaurant always has a great buzz and atmosphere. Whether it’s a couple’s anniversary or a large birthday party, we always do our best to make any occasion great. That’s the best bit. Seeing people come together whilst enjoying your food. It makes the pressure of working in a kitchen well worth it. And of course I have to say this, the people I work with. Having an amazing team behind you makes all the difference; we’re a band you can’t break.
All your dishes are seasonally inspired, what dishes can we expect this winter?
We are focusing a lot on meats we can braise for a long time, creating that perfect fall off the bone meat. That’s what everyone wants in winter isn’t it? Slow cooked meats that transform any stew or casserole.
What would be your treat night meal on a Friday evening?
I’m too busy in the kitchen at Barristers on a Friday to have a treat meal! Monday’s are my evenings off and it has to be an Indian. I don’t have it often so when I do choose to have one, they are always worth it. There are some great Indian restaurants around Knutsford. I have also been teaching my girlfriend to cook dishes from scratch so I know I’m in for a treat when I can smell great things cooking in the kitchen when I get home!
What is your top tip for cooking delicious meals like those seen on the menu at home?
There are no great tips, anyone can follow recipes and instruction but it’s cooking with passion and care that can transform a dish. Take the time to try new flavours and ingredients you wouldn’t normally, that is how you make a delicious meal and trust me, the more flavours and spices… The better!
For more on The Vicarage or the brand new Courthouse Cheshire, find out more here…