Interview: Mark Stinchcombe
Mark Stinchcombe is head chef at Eckington Manor in Worcestershire where he and his wife, Sue, cook modern British and European cuisines. Mark is known to millions of TV viewers as the winner of BBC’s “MasterChef: The Professionals” in 2015.
Q: Why did you become a chef – and where did you train?
A: I fell in love with cooking at school. We had an amazing home economics teacher who made me believe in good food. She was so enthusiastic, which came across to all the students. So for me, the only choice was to go into the catering industry. I trained at Ston Easton Park in Bath and The Driftwood with Chris Eden.
Q: What is your favourite dish to cook – and why?
A: I think my favourite dish to cook is Sunday lunch. There is nothing better than looking in the oven and seeing those perfect roasties and Yorkshire puddings.
Q: You are allowed to select four famous people, living or dead, to join you for dinner. Who would you choose – and where would you go?
A: I’m a big fan of Pop Art, so I think Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. I would also like to hear the views on modern cooking from Auguste Escoffier and I think Heston Blumenthal is a creative genius so he would have to be at the dinner table. The restaurant would have to be El Bulli.
Q: What advice would you give to a trainee chef?
A: I think the best advice I have learnt over the years is to listen and ask questions. We tell the chefs coming through our kitchen to eat out and buy cook books and never stop learning.
Q: Why do you like using Canadian maple syrup in cooking?
A: I like using maple syrup to add seasoning to a dish. It has a beautiful, rounded flavour. We use it to cook our home-grown carrots. Together with star anise and salted butter, it produces a lovely glaze when reduced.
Q: Name three ingredients you cannot live without.
A: I couldn’t live without salt, butter and bread. Salt makes everything taste nicer, butter is crucial to all good French cookery, and bread has an irresistible aroma when it comes out, fresh from the oven.
Q: What is the best meal you have ever eaten – and why?
A: I have had the pleasure to eat at many amazing restaurants but the best would have to be on my honeymoon at Per Se in New York. Amazing company, great food and brilliant