Head Chef, Ian McNaught, Roman Camp

What inspired you to become a chef?

I left school with no qualifications and catering was one of the only courses that didn’t require academic certificates. I soon realised that this was the profession for me and 25 years later I still love what I do.

What do you find most satisfying about your work?

I am extremely lucky to work in an establishment that allows me to use the very best ingredients available. This allows me to create unique dishes and provide our guests with the very best dining experience.

I also find it satisfying seeing people who have worked in my kitchen furthering their careers and going on to bigger and better things.

And least?

  1. Clingfilm issue – when you rip your hands on the cutting edge.
  2. When someone switches your timer off and you are not in the kitchen.
  3. When someone finishes your blue roll and doesn’t replace it.

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

Like most chefs from my generation it would have to be Marco. When his book White Heat was published it changed the perception of working in a professional kitchen creating high end consistent food.

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

Young cooks’ overuse of modernist cuisine and chemicals without true understanding and knowledge. Thinking everything has to be cooked in a water bath, which does have a place in the modern kitchen, but let’s not forget about flames, pans and butter. Describe your perfect diner. Someone who has some knowledge of food and its preparation, is willing to try new foods, and able to give honest feedback whether it be constructive criticism or praise.

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

I did enjoy reading reviews from the late A.A Gill because of his honest and entertaining approach. Richard Bath & Joanna Blythman are both very knowledgeable and have reviewed us favourably in the past.

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

The most important thing is to have fun, enjoy having a go and trying things out. Remember recipes are only a guideline. Change and adapt to your own taste. Remember to season though as taste is always number one!

Roman Camp