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The Chef's Table
12:51pm Thursday 19th April 2012 in Eating Out Reviews
This week, it’s the turn of Stuart Pollock, head chef at Menzies Hotel, Fleming Way.
Tel: 01793 528282
1. When did you first take an interest in cooking, and when did you decide you wanted to become a chef?
When I was about 14 I realised my real passion for food. As my mum is a great cook, she always made fruit cakes and choux buns as well as home made pizzas. At school, when doing the practical work in food tech, I found it easy.
2. Where did you do your training?
I trained at North Star College for a year of a two-year course, but I wanted to be more hands on so I got a job at the then De Vere hotel in West Swindon. I completed my NVQ 3 within a year and constantly pestered the head chef with questions about ingredients, recipes and cooking methods
3. How would you describe the style of food served in your restaurant?
We serve an a la carte menu in the restaurant, which I believe contains something for everyone, from pan fried sea bass with sautéed vine tomatoes to home made saag and butter chicken curry.
4. Do you have a signature dish? If so, what?
Although I believe all dishes I cook are from my heart, and I genuinely do want to please all our customers. I don’t really have a signature dish although if you ask the back office team they would say my chocolate chip brownies. I think every dish should be treated with the same care and attention you would give to a signature dish.
5. What would you order from your own menu?
There is nothing I don’t like on my menu, although if pushed I would go for the pan seared calve’s liver with creamy mash, crispy shallots and bacon, with sage jus.
6. Your favourite vegetable, and why?
I love leeks; they could be sautéed with a little butter and cracked black pepper or braised in cider with a toasted walnut dressing, or a simple leek and potato soup.
7. And favourite dessert?
It’s not a posh dessert by any means but my mum’s home made rice pudding, and, of course, the traditional dollop of strawberry jam.
8. Do you cook a lot at home? What sort of food?
I don’t really have much time to cook at home as I never really finish work before 10pm. My girlfriend does a lot of it; her lemon-marinated tuna steak with a new potato salad is pretty good.
9. Where else locally do you like to eat?
I like Italian food, so I tend to go to La Carbonara – nice portions, good price, good quality rustic Italian food. Plus I live just round the corner, which is a bonus.
10. Why should people come to Menzies Hotel?
I think we put out some great, varied food. The boss has a saying that “your mum’s Sunday roast is good but we need to be great” and I try to install that belief into my chefs.