Chef Q&A: Emma Fitsell
Head chef at The College Arms in Hertford Heath
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.