Nick grew up in Falmouth and trained under chef legends Keith Floyd and Jean Christophe Novelli. He returned to Cornwall to run restaurants at the Headland Hotel and The Rosevine, as well as to teach at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Foundation. Now he’s bringing 30 years of cooking experience, and a serious passion for local Cornish produce, to The Greenbank and The Alverton.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I started cooking when I was 15 years old. It just seemed so exciting to me when I was younger. Fast paced and sometimes chaotic.
Now I’m 46, I see many of the chefs I trained running their own kitchen, which makes it all worthwhile. I just love food and the outdoors so the two have always sat side by side. I love to catch the fish, then cook, then eat; this influences most of what I do – pretty basic really!
What do you find most satisfying about your work?
New chefs coming into the kitchen, new ideas, new techniques. It’s good to keep you on your toes!
The Greenbank Hotel for me is refreshing. It’s honest and it concentrates on what we do well. Sat on the river with views of the Carrick Roads and beyond, our clientele want to taste the view and it’s my job to do my best to deliver this. I think we are succeeding and the future is exciting.
The Alverton Hotel reminds me a lot of my apprenticeship. Country house cooking but on a larger scale, the food is slightly more robust with a strong emphasis on Cornish meats rather than the seafood at The Greenbank. The two kitchens really complement each other, both showing different strengths.
I try to always keep a smile on my face, we can all take it a bit too seriously. I love what I do but at the end of the day it is my job and I am lucky to be able to go home at the end of the day and see my family.
Is there a chef you particularly admire, and if so why?
I admire any chef at any level, it is a hard profession. It always has been and it’s not getting any easier. You will always hear chefs say it is a lifestyle not a job, and they are pretty much right!
Is there any aspect of the contemporary food scene that you find especially irritating?
No, that’s what makes it all work: choice.
One person’s Michelin is another person’s café, it doesn’t matter as long as it is good and value for money.
Describe your perfect dining companion or guest.
Anyone who is close to me. My family or friends… it’s pretty boring eating on your own! Tarantino would be interesting. And Mrs Beeton would have a lot to say on modern kitchens, I’m sure.
Are there any food critics whose opinions you respect, and if so why?
Everything is up for criticism but chefs need to have inner self confidence and a strong backbone. As long as I’ve done my best and my team has performed well it’s out of my control how somebody else rates my food. I have a few rules: one is if you’re not happy with it, don’t serve it. If my chefs and I follow this rule, critics should treat me fairly.
What’s the most important thing to bear in mind when cooking your recipes at home?
Wine and fun! Plus cook simply. Let the produce stand out, season well, complement with subtle flavours, and don’t rush.