Chef Interview: Steven Edwards
“I enjoy spending time with local producers, seeing the produce up close gives a new-found respect to make sure that it’s ‘done justice’ when serving to the customer.”
Fans of MasterChef may recall how Steven Edwards, a Sussex-based chef, won the sixth ‘professionals’ series at the age of just 26, making him one of the youngest winners.
It seems Steve was always destined to be a winner, claiming the title Sussex Young Chef of the Year in 2010. He has trained with some of the country’s leading chefs, including Raymond Blanc and local chef Matt Gillan at South Lodge Hotel before going on to become head chef at The Camellia Restaurant – a position he held at the time of winning MasterChef. Steve left South Lodge in 2014 to set up his own company; etch food. Here he aims to provide customers a unique dining experience in a fun, interactive and non-pretentious atmosphere.
His food philosophy is simple: using quality local ingredients to create unique and simple dishes, focusing on getting the most out of each ingredient. Steve takes part in food events across the country and hosts residencies and pop-up restaurants in Surrey and Sussex, as well as further afield. Recent and regular pop-ups in our region include Penny Hill Park Hotel and Spa, Nyetimber Vineyard in West Sussex & The Bingham Hotel in Richmond, London. In March 2015 Steve was appointed as the creative consultant for the Brighton British Airways i360, due to open this summer.
I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Steve over the last few months, having collaborated with him on several projects. Here I get some insights into the chef, businessman and family man….
What’s important to you?
Quality is the most important thing to me. That’s not just about cooking but every decision I make in the company. The question I always ask is, “Is this the best we can get?”.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I’m inspired by local produce and the seasons. I love Sussex and seeing the countryside change throughout the year. This inspires me to create new dishes. I enjoy spending time with local producers, seeing the produce up close gives a new-found respect to make sure that it’s ‘done justice’ when serving to the customer.
What do you cook at home?
You should speak to my wife! I’m going to be honest: I do very little cooking at home as my Mrs looks after me so well. When I do have an opportunity to cook, I like to bake with the kids or cook the homely nostalgic favourites like shepherd’s pie.
Nandos! I’m not ashamed to say I eat there. The concept is great. Quick, simple, semi-healthy food that brings the family together. In the future I would love to be part of a concept like this.
What do you think of the local food scene?
Sussex and Surrey both have lots to offer in terms of production and dining and this is developing all the time. Living in Sussex, I have also followed the Brighton Food scene as an observer and I think it just gets better and better each year. Brighton really is booming and I can’t wait to get my teeth stuck in and help push it further.
Where do you like to eat out?
Living in Horsham, I love the Crabtree Pub. It was the local whilst working at South Lodge. Great staff, food and atmosphere. Perfect on a Sunday with the family.
Which celebrity chefs do you admire?
I hate the term celebrity chef as to me it describes a chef who is on TV more than in a kitchen! There are chefs I admire: Jason Atherton (of the Pollen Street Social empire), because he is not only a highly talented chef, but I also admire him for his business prowess. His achievements are remarkable. Ashley Palmer-Watts at Dinner (in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge), who studies the history of British food and serves it in a 180-cover, two Michelin-star restaurant. There’s no-one else doing this. Perhaps lesser known would be Bristol-based chefs Jonray & Peter Sánchez-Iglesias. I met them in 2012, and for me this was a massive turning point in my career. They were so full of passion, talent and the nicest chefs you could meet. They are self -taught, so everything they do is a little different, and the way they question every process is what I love most. Their cuisine is quite minimalist, but everything on the plate is perfect. Tragically, Jonray passed away last year and since then the restaurant has relocated down the road to Bristol Harbour. Peter is doing an amazing job with Casamia Restaurant and also two other restaurants, a pizzeria & tapas bar. That alone, for me, is inspiring.
What’s next for you?
I couldn’t be happier with how things are going and feel like 2016 is going to be the busiest yet. With the British Airways i360 opening in Summer and etch events getting busier and busier. For me the last piece in my three-year plan after winning MasterChef is to open my own restaurant. This has always been my ambition, even though I know it will be difficult. I think its important to find the right location and space that allows for creativity and innovation. I want to create a restaurant that is still around in 10 – 15 years’ time. For me it’s about creating a legacy.
Tags: Chef Interviews
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