Bril­liantly Britalian

A chef mas­ter­class with Dave Wall at The Un­ruly Pig

EADT Suffolk - - INSIDE - WORDS: Jayne Lindill PHO­TOS: Phil Mor­ley

You have to be cu­ri­ous about a restau­rant called The Un­ruly Pig. Dave Wall cer­tainly was when its owner, Brendan Pad­field, went look­ing for a chef back in 2015.

Dave was qui­etly carv­ing out a suc­cess­ful ca­reer for him­self with one of the re­gion’s most re­spected names in hos­pi­tal­ity when the op­por­tu­nity came knock­ing. It was the head chef post he’d been work­ing to­wards – a brand new venture in a great lo­ca­tion just out­side Wood­bridge, with a com­mit­ted, pas­sion­ate, en­thu­si­as­tic owner, al­beit one who had never owned a restau­rant be­fore.

“It was a bit of a leap of faith to be hon­est,” says Dave. In­deed, Brendan had only just agreed the pur­chase of the prop­erty at Bromeswell – for­merly the renowned Bri­tish Larder – hadn’t even moved in, and the in­ter­view took place at his house. But as Brendan shared his plans for an ex­cit­ing new gas­tropub, that would be com­mit­ted to good, hon­est food, Dave be­came more and more con­vinced that this should be his next ca­reer move.

“I liked Brendan’s vi­sion for the place,” he says, “and it was a re­ally good time. I’d al­ways said I would be a head chef by the time I was 30, that was the game plan.

But I could see what a step up it was and I wanted to be as well pre­pared as I could be.”

In fact, Dave was more than ad­e­quately pre­pared. He’s some­thing of an ac­ci­den­tal chef, a boy from Ip­swich who left col­lege with good A-lev­els but no clear idea about what to do with them. So, he went trav­el­ling, first to Aus­tralia where he earned money wash­ing pots in busy kitchens of big re­sort ho­tels. “It was the usual thing – they’d be short staffed and sud­denly it’s ‘Dave get over here’, and you find your­self at the stove, do­ing a dif­fer­ent job.” It didn’t take long for Dave to re­alise he re­ally rather liked it. “It was busy, ex­cit­ing, good fun.”

At the end of his one-year visa Dave re­turned home and started sav­ing for an­other trip, this time to Canada. It was a for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, work­ing at Whistler ski re­sort and at a golf club. “I wanted to stay, but to meet the res­i­dency re­quire­ments I needed for­mal qual­i­fi­ca­tions. I found what I wanted to do - it made me be­come a chef.”

Back in Suf­folk, Dave landed a job as com­mis chef at The An­chor in Nay­land, with then head chef Carl Shilling­ford. It was a bril­liant time, he says, and a very solid ground­ing, work­ing to a very high stan­dard, mak­ing ev­ery­thing from scratch from the inn’s kitchen gar­den and their own rare breed meats.

“Carl re­ally en­joyed teach­ing peo­ple and I learned so much,” he says. “He en­cour­aged me to go to Lon­don, he wanted that for me. He al­ways says that, as a chef, you need to ex­pe­ri­ence a chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment, to push your­self so you know you can do it.” Dave went for the ul­ti­mate in chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ments, Gor­don Ram­say Group. He worked at the now de­funct Box­wood Cafe, the Savoy Grill and Clar­idges, be­fore land­ing a dream op­por­tu­nity with Biben­dum in South Kens­ing­ton – old school, tra­di­tional, a bas­tion of in­gre­di­ents-led, clas­si­cal French cook­ing. “I loved it,” says Dave. “It felt great walk­ing in there ev­ery day. It was hard work but good pro­gres­sion.”

After 18 months he re­turned to Suf­folk to set up home and fam­ily life with his wife. He joined the cel­e­brated Le Tal­booth restau­rant, spend­ing four years first as ju­nior sous chef, then se­nior sous chef, a great step­ping stone for a man am­bi­tious to run his own kitchen.

The Un­ruly Pig is, as its name sug­gests, dif­fi­cult to cat­e­gorise. Not just a restau­rant, but more than a pub. Per­haps a gas­tropub, but re­ally much more in­di­vid­ual and quirky, in all the right ways. Help­ing to get a new venture off the ground has given Dave a strong sense of own­er­ship and he re­ally cares about ev­ery as­pect of the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. When the Bri­tish Larder de­parted, Brendan re­tained many of the team who had helped es­tab­lish its ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion, in­clud­ing Jake Mad­di­son, chef de par­tie. “A ter­rific guy and still with us,” says Dave, who has added Karl Green as se­nior sous chef, for­merly of Mid­sum­mer House in Cam­bridge and the Crown at Stoke by Nay­land.

In­deed, The Un­ruly Pig’s

abil­ity to at­tract and re­tain staff is one of the things Dave is most proud of, not least be­cause they went through the har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of a cat­a­strophic fire just a cou­ple of months after open­ing. It’s dif­fi­cult to have a con­ver­sa­tion with him with­out the sub­ject com­ing up. The blaze closed the restau­rant for six months. When it re­opened in De­cem­ber 2015, the pub­lic re­sponse to a ge­nius ‘We’re back on our trot­ters’ re­cov­ery cam­paign packed the restau­rant ev­ery day over Christ­mas and well into the new year. Dave and The Un­ruly Pig team worked long hours, day after day. “It was hard work, I won­dered if we would cope,” he con­fesses, “but the team all pulled through. They are amaz­ing.” the­un­


The food at The Un­ruly Pig re­flects Dave’s pas­sion for clas­si­cal Ital­ian cook­ing – sea­sonal, with high qual­ity in­gre­di­ents at the heart of ev­ery­thing. “That’s where ev­ery dish starts, we don’t try to rein­vent the wheel in terms of clas­si­cal com­bi­na­tions,” he says, “but we try to put a dif­fer­ent spin on a dish, ac­cord­ing to what lo­cal in­gre­di­ents are avail­able.” Dave has in­stalled an Inka grill, a ‘closed door’ char­coal grill that cooks at an in­cred­i­ble 400°Cplus, en­hanc­ing both the flavour and suc­cu­lence of grilled meat and fish.

A la carte menus change bi­monthly and the set menu changes at least daily, in­flu­enced by what­ever comes in fresh from the coast or from lo­cal sup­pli­ers. Or­ford is a rich source of in­gre­di­ents – Dave buys fish from Pin­neys and bread from Pump Street Bak­ery (“We couldn’t make it that good!”), as­para­gus and rhubarb come from High House Farm. Veg­eta­bles are sup­plied by re­gional sup­pli­ers Anglia Pro­duce, Humdinger(only three miles away) as well as Vir­ginia Nurs­eries at New­bourne, which grows spe­cial­ist sea­sonal veg­eta­bles and herbs.


Dave’s sum­mery soup is sheer ge­nius. Vivid green, smooth and de­li­cious with the cit­rus-cel­ery flavours of lovage from Vir­ginia Nurs­eries, and fresh ap­ple, it feels lux­u­ri­ous, yet as if it’s do­ing you some good. The Pin­ney’s mack­erel is a de­light­ful con­trast, rich and smoky, and the crou­ton just rounds it off for tex­ture.

Dave’s tip: The fo­cus on mak­ing this soup taste ex­traor­di­nary is to keep it very fresh and vi­brant. To achieve this, firstly en­sure that you have all your in­gre­di­ents and equip­ment pre­pared be­fore you be­gin cook­ing, so that your soup isn’t stew­ing away and los­ing flavour whilst you’re look­ing for the blender jug! Se­condly cook it and cool it quickly by pass­ing it through a fine sieve (after blend­ing) straight into a bowl chilled over a larger bowl of ice, so that you can then re­heat it when it comes to serv­ing. It also helps if you have a good blender.


A clas­sic sea­sonal sum­mer dish, with a lo­cal twist. Dave en­joys us­ing Pin­ney’s na­tive young lob­sters. At 500gms, the chicks, as they’re called, are smaller, sweeter and more ten­der, he be­lieves, which en­ables him to use ev­ery part of the lob­ster. The lob­ster is poached and a stock made from the shells, which goes into the risotto. “This en­ables us to ex­tract the full flavour from the lob­ster,” says Dave. The risotto also uses oys­ter leaf, sea aster and sam­phire, which can all be found on the Deben penin­sula.

TOP RIGHT: Cook­ing roasted quailRIGHT: Dave’s ou­s­tand­ing pre­sen­ta­tion matches the qual­ity of his food

ABOVE: Dave Wall, head chef at The Un­ruly Pig

LEFT: Roasted breast of quail

ABOVE: Lovage soup with Pin­neys smoked mack­erelRIGHT: Lob­ster risotto

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