What are the flavours you’re feeling drawn towards for autumn and winter?
Autumn is a great time to start making jellies and there’s nothing more rewarding than crystal-clear jellies; I find them really enchanting. You can really play around with all the different flavours like elderberries, blackberries, rosehips, damsons and pair them with the base which will be a strained apple pulp. You can use cooking apples, crab apples or medlars for the setting element. Most people don’t really know what to do with crab apples or medlars, but they are a great base for a jelly that you can flavour with something else. Jellies are also delicious with both meat and cheese. I don’t feel winter as much, but mid-January I start getting excited again as Italian citrus starts appearing and Seville oranges, and then it’s all about marmalade. Blood oranges start appearing and I get excited by the colour. However, unfortunately this is one marmalade I can’t master yet— I can never retain the bright red colour, and this really irritates me so I always give up, I usually give it a go every year though, hoping I might come up with a new idea.
We know that you’ve worked as a pastry chef in some fine establishments. Is this where you honed your craft or have you always had a flair for sweet things?
I only worked entirely in pastry at St John. The kitchens I worked in beforehand had both sections in one, which is really common. Pastry is usually tucked away in a tiny corner. It was complete luxury working in the St John pastry kitchen and being on my own. The pastry/bakery section was double the size of the savoury and they had three or more chefs during service. I guess working in pastry fulltime helped me become more skilled as if I would fail at something then I would have time to try to get it right and go back to it. There is a slower pace in pastry and more time to iron out the creases.