Chef Q&A: Emma Fit­sell

Head chef at The Col­lege Arms in Hert­ford Heath

Hertfordshire Life - - CONTENTS -

De­scribe your style

I like to think that my style is sim­ple, clean and flavour­ful. English clas­si­cal dishes with a mod­ern twist.

How do you de­cide your menu?

My menus are based around what is in sea­son in or­der to get the best out of the in­gre­di­ents and the best flavour.

What lo­cal pro­duc­ers do you use?

I use some Hert­ford­shire pro­duc­ers, Amwell Fruit Com­pany (they also do veg­eta­bles) and The Cheese Plate in Bunt­ing­ford are two of them. I re­ally like their ethos around se­lect­ing prod­ucts that are of the high­est qual­ity, which makes work­ing along­side them very en­joy­able.

Which menu dish do you most en­joy pre­par­ing?

I re­ally like all of them, but in par­tic­u­lar the Cata­lan fish stew (above) served with home­made rose­mary bread. I’ve al­ways loved cook­ing seafood and this dish’s flavour com­bi­na­tions are amaz­ing, even if I do say so my­self!

The most im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent in your cook­ing?

Herbs are a good way to im­prove and add flavour. On our cur­rent menu the smoked salmon ril­lette is en­hanced by adding dill and our veni­son haunch is cooked with rose­mary.

Your best culi­nary idea?

I like to come up with ideas on how to use the whole an­i­mal. For ex­am­ple, with a whole rab­bit I would break it down into com­po­nents and use dif­fer­ent tech­niques to cook them. I would con­fit the legs and shoul­ders, make bal­lo­tine from the loin and jus from the bones.

Who did you train un­der and what did they teach you?

I trained un­der a few chefs and each one has their own favourite tech­niques. The big­gest in­flu­ence was Chris Cheah at The Knife and Cleaver in Houghton Con­quest. He taught me how to con­struct a dish and about flavour and pre­sen­ta­tion.

Pre­dic­tion for the next food trend?

Street food is be­com­ing so pop­u­lar. It is flavour­ful and di­verse with a never end­ing list of cuisines from around the world.

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