Head Chef, Richard Allen, Rockliffe Hall

What inspired you to become a chef?

My family are caterers. We owned bakeries when I was a kid. My brothers and sisters worked in the shops so I guess it was a natural progression really.

What do you find most satisfying about your work?

Seeing young chefs developing, constantly learning and standing on their own two feeton a section.

And least?

People who are not willing to give things a go.

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

Gareth Ward (Ynshir). I love his big bold approach to flavour.

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

Splashes and messy presentations, things on the plate that you can’t eat and not being able to recognise what you are eating.

Describe your perfect dining companion or guest.

My perfect dining companion would be my wife, Leanne. My perfect guest would have been Anthony Bourdain.

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

No not particularly. Opinions vary so much with food, it is best not to get too inspired or deflated about one guest’s view. Having said that I think the AA as an organisation have got it right and I always look forward to their opinions on their experience in the restaurant.

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

Make sure you enjoy it, food should be fun.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I would like to see more young people getting into the hospitality industry. It really is thebest thing I ever did. The places I’ve seen and the amazing people I’ve been able to meet and work with are phenomenal. It’s such a rewarding career.

Rockliffe Hall

Hurworth on Tees, County Durham