Meet the Cook

The Cook in the North private chef cooking in the Yorkshire Dales
The Cook in the North private chef cooking in the Yorkshire Dales

It all began in Grandma's kitchen...

"My love of cooking started in my Grandma's kitchen, on my weekly visits for tea at her house after primary school - playing restaurants with trays and old silverware and helping with the cooking. My grandad used to deliver the milk from the local farm when he was a lad and they still had old milk churns in the pantry to play with. Baking cherry or currant buns was a weekly ritual and there always seemed to be a piece of brisket resting under a mountain of heavy chopping boards.

I was taught to light the gas, use a chip pan, make pastry, toss pancakes, mix cake batter, put trays in a hot oven, present a salad and make custard. I don't think I was ever allowed to make the gravy but it certainly never came from a packet! There are certain smells that still bring back memories of that kitchen, particularly roasting pork and fruit left ripening to perfection (or sat in port!). Happy days and the first steps on a lifelong love of food.

At home I was chief Yorkshire pudding chef every Sunday and learned the value of family meals and conversation around a table. Acknowledging the fact that it's hard work putting a meal on the table for your family every day, my mum always said the best meal is one that's cooked by someone else.

Combining nature and food

When I went to university I discovered a whole raft of new ingredients and an army of hungry fellow students who loved my dinners. Our student house was one of the first Bristol customers of Riverford organic farm's weekly veg box deliveries. I can still remember the smell of those vegetables - they instilled in me the importance of quality ingredients grown with love for their superior taste. I've sought out organic food growers ever since and love nothing more than exploring organic farms, gardens, greenhouses and allotments where fresh fruit, veg and herbs are grown.

Ask me where the ingredients for your meal come from. I don't deal with 'foodservice companies' or 'catering suppliers' - the delicious things on your plate are brought straight from farms to my doorstep with not a plastic bag, freezer box or barcode in sight.

The young environmentalist

My values are based on a respect for nature and the environment. I was the UK's first youth delegate to the United Nations climate change conferences - meeting young people from across the world - and have spent most of my life volunteering across the British Isles for nature conservation.

I worked for the Woodland Trust and the Wildlife Trusts for over a decade, specialising in citizen science (proving that climate change is happening and affecting nature and food production) and children's learning (creating the 'nature detectives' club and thousands of schools' learning resources).

Inquisitive traveller

As part of my environmental volunteering and work, I have travelled throughout the British Isles, Europe and beyond. My cooking has been particularly influenced by French, German and Spanish cuisine, but travels to China, South Africa, Morocco, Iceland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark have all left their mark.

As a boy from the Pennines I am always fascinated and fired up by the fresh fish and seafood traditions of our coasts.

I enjoy sharing my passion for food with locals and visitors. My menu reflects the diversity of my experiences, tastes and skills - there's something for everyone.

Let's chat

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