Head Chef, Anuj Thakur, Tewkesbury Park Hotel

What inspired you to become a chef?

My Dad, who is the best cook in our family. He didn’t have any professional training but he is such a natural cook. He used to cook banquets at big wedding parties and festivals in India. As a kid I always used to stand next to him while he was stirring the big pots of curry. Funnily enough he thought I would be an engineer… but here I am, a chef. I love it.

What do you find most satisfying about your work?

Transformation of the simplest ingredients into the tastiest plate of food.

And least?

The difficulty finding stability in young chefs – they move around too much, too early these days.

Is there a chef you particularly admire, and if so why?

I think at present it is a golden era of British gastronomy, so there are many chefs to admire. However, I admire my team the most as I am what I am because of their hard work and resilience.

Is there any aspect of the contemporary food scene that you find especially irritating?

Lack of basic cooking knowledge. It’s so sad to see young chefs that like to create beautiful dishes but can’t even make homemade mayonnaise.

Describe your perfect dining companion or guest.

My local butcher, fish monger and vegetable man. I think they would be the best dining companions as they would be so proud to see their hard work on a plate and enjoy my creation.

Are there any food critics whose opinions you respect, and if so why?

To be honest I respect anyone who understands flavour combinations, but above all it has to be our guest’s opinion as their enjoyment is our ultimate prize.

What’s the most important thing to bear in mind when cooking your recipes at home?

Prepare and plan in advance but above all enjoy cooking.

Tewkesbury Park Hotel

Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire