THE GAME-BRITISH & SCOTTISH CHEFS: PAUL FOSTER
The Brits have been preparing for some time the after Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White cuisine. Not that there is a british style but we can certainly say that the emerging chefs are pro-locavore and that they are sourcing the best products of the island of Albion. In the very cosmopolitan London, the influences of young chefs are many, which give them a unique culinary personality, but do not forget those who work in the countryside!
The rural Suffolk is the perfect place for Paul Foster to take the time to refine his cooking and develop a unique signature on the outside of London. In a short time, we can already say that he is actually doing the Tuddenham Mill (Boutique Hotel & Restaurant) a gastronomic destination in England.
Paul Foster completed his apprenticeship in famous restaurants (Le Manoir,WD-50, etc.) but it is truly as sous-chef at Sat Bains (his mentor) he learned the most and he developed his style. Foster’s cuisine is very personal, progressive and rooted in the British terroir (Suffolk country), and he is a fan of foraging. Certainly one of the best young English chefs of the moment and a perfect example of what Harold McGee said recently: ‘’Cooking is no longer national or traditional-it is now personal’’.
One of the chefs who will upsets the British cuisine in the coming years and Tuddenham Mill is (actually) in my Top -5- Fine dining in England!
Q+A WITH PAUL FOSTER (www.tuddenhammill.co.uk ):
1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine at Tuddenham Mill and what is it main characteristics?
PFoster- The food is very natural and very British. My main focus is Purity of flavour. I look at every ingredient and think how can I best
extract it’s flavour. I don’t like manipulation of food, or dishes that are overworked. Like most chefs I am inspired by the greats but I leave it at
inspiration and never follow or copy trends. I always avoided the pointless ‘spheres’ ect. Things like that should be left to the people who do it really well. It is horrible to see concepts bastardised. I am happy to say I if you asked me to show you spherification then I wouldn’t know where to start, that should be left to places like el bulli as they do it very well.
2-(Scoffier) You are in the area of Suffolk. What are the benefits of working outside of London?
PFoster- When you are off the beaten track customers have to make a journey to dine with you. A journey brings with it different experiences and emotions. We have 15 stunning bedrooms, and 12 beautiful acres of land. Ultimately we want to make Tuddenham a food destination. But it is important to us that we give the guests that bit extra.
3-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?
PFoster- I grew up in pubs and one of the most memorable when I used to help my dad out in the cellar was malt, at the time I wasn’t aware of what it was, I just knew how good it smelt. It wasn’t till I started cooking and I smelt some malt extract It took me right back to childhood. I don’t use a huge amount in my cooking but I do make a malt bread which is now just over a year old and ageing very well indeed. The aroma when it is freshly baked is outstanding.
4-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?
PFoster- I cook with the seasons so certain items I won’t have on all year. I do have sea buckthorn on nearly all year round I am a huge fan of the native berry grown by the ocean.
5-(Scoffier) I had the chance to discuss with other talented chefs from England and several chefs talk to me of chef Sat Bains like an inspiration. You worked with him, is a mentor for you? What you have learned with him?
PFoster- A huge inspiration, his voice is always in my head. I use it as a tool to keep pushing myself. From Sat, as well as cooking techniques and philosophies I learned leadership, how to motivate and inspire people, and self discipline. Self discipline is very important in many ways
it’s about knowing when to stop if a dish is ready and not over working it. It is also about questioning everything you do, asking yourself is this good enough? Does it taste amazing? And if not you have to have the bollocks and discipline to start again.
6-(Scoffier) Foraging is very popular actually, you even organize days of foraging with *Miles Irving, a pioneer and expert in England. Why is it important in your cuisine?
PFoster- Foraging is huge at the moment, and it is very important to know what you are picking and using as there are some very deadly yet innocent looking plants out there. It is something I have always had an interest in. Right from the early days of just using wild garlic, plums, cherries, mushrooms, and nettles. I always wondered what else was out there to eat. Whilst at Sat Bains, I met Miles Irving and was impressed by his knowledge and passion. We worked with each other to giving advice on how we use the ingredients. After I had settled into Tuddenham Mill I organised a foraging walk with Miles and some of our customers. It was great to go on foot with Miles, his knowledge.
7-(Scoffier) How do you develop (your inspiration) your recipes and construct your Menu at Tuddenham Mill?
PFoster- The menus are gradually evolved. When an ingredient is coming into season, I will work on how to best extract it’s flavour the ingredients are celebrated on the menu untill the season starts to close all the time, I’m considering the replacements. I never switch off, I’m thinking of new dishes all the time, on holiday, when driving, when walking home from work after a long day, when I’m foraging and also when I’m sleepin
8-(Scoffier) Do you use some elements from new technology (sous-vide etc.) in your cooking techniques? If yes, which?
PFoster- I use technology where it enhances or promotes the ingredient. I use waterbaths, paco jet, ect. but a lot of my techniques are traditional, salting, smoking, curing, most of my fish is cooked classically in a pan. There is no point using equipment for the sake of it or because it is new and a gimmick. When you have a true understanding of the ingredients you are using only then you can decide the best way to cook it.
9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Paul Foster and Tuddenham Mill?
PFoster- Recipe:Lamb rump and shoulder, Hogweed seed, Clams, Courgette, Yoghurt
10-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef or for your restaurant? Do you think about write a book, others
PFoster- Owning my own restaurant is a massive ambition but a good grounding here at Tuddenham Mill is essential. I want to put the
tiny village of Tuddenham on the map. It is a great opportunity to make a name for myself and to boost the reputation of the Mill. A book is way off, I wouldn’t even consider that yet but would be amazing in the future.
RECIPE: Lamb rump and shoulder, Hogweed seed, Clams, Courgette, Yoghurt
INGREDIENT & PROGRESSION RECIPE (Serves 4)
-2 lamb rumps
-1 lamb shoulder on the bone
-1 lemon juiced
-4 pink fir apple potatoes
-200g palourde clams
-Teaspoon dried and ground hogweed seeds (foraged)
-100ml natural yoghurt
-200ml reduced brown chicken stock
1. Season the lamb shoulder and roast very slowly at 120C for 5 hours,
when cooked pull the meat off the bone, re-season and mix in around 100ml of
reduced brown chicken stock. Roll in cling film and refrigerate until needed.
2. Trim up the lamb rumps cut each into two vacuum pack and cook in
water bath at 56C for 1 1/2 hours.
3. Open up the clams over heat, chill and remove from the shells,
reserve in fridge until needed.
4. Slice the courgette length ways on a mandolin, season with sea salt
and a spoon of the lemon juice, leave in fridge for 1 hour.
5. Peel the pink fir potatoes place in a bag with 50g of the butter a
pinch salt and a pinch of hogweed seeds, vacuum pack and cook for 1 hour at 90C.
6. Brown 100g of the butter in a pan add a small amount of lemon juice
and 100ml of the chicken stock, keep warm.
7. When the lamb rump is cooked remove from the bag pat it dry and sear
the fat side in a pan with a spoon of the sunflower oil.
8. Warm the clams in the brown butter dressing, slice the shoulder and warm under the grill. Carve the lamb
rump, season the pink flesh with sea salt and a good pinch of ground hogweed seed.
9. Arrange the ingredients on the plate and spoon over the warm clams. Finish
with spoons of the natural yoghurt.
-Tuddenham Mill/Chef Paul Foster
Tuddenham, Nr. NewMarket
1. Review by Jay Rayner, The Observer (The Guardian), June 5th 2011
3. Skinny Bib blog (Review), July 2011
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