in black leather and careering to a halt on his fabulous
motorbike may not be the conventional way for one of
the countrys best young chefs to turn up for a
cookery demonstration! However, in no time at all Steven
Walpole switches his engaging smile into gear, dons
his professional attire and soon charms his audience
with his energetic personality and wonderful cooking
skills . . . more
Whom do you most admire for their achievements?
Sounds odd for me to say this, as he was an old
college buddy, but Jamie Oliver. Think what he has done
with the 15 foundation and training, brilliant. It's
nice to see someone trying to help people have a second
chance. Also with how he has helped the campaign for
Who is your favourite chef?
Georgio Locatelli - the mans passion for ingredients
and simple good food is inspiring
With whom would you most like to have dinner?
Chef would be Charlie Trotter as I think the man
is an exceptional chef and from one meal with him I
would learn so much. If not then David Attenborough
- he is just a legend and intrigues me with his work.
What would be your desert island disk?
I predict a riot by the Kaiser Chiefs sums up some
kitchen services I have had as a chef
What is your favourite British food?
A Sunday roast. It does not matter what meat or
poultry as long as it's British and with a whole selection
of seasonal vegetables. Or Cullen Skink, smoked haddock
soup, it's charming.
What is your favourite Italian food?
Gnocchi Sardi, potato gnocchi with smoked ricotta,
baby spinach and bottarga. Sardinia for me is a lovely
place and it's the play ground for Italians - it's there
holiday destination. This dish just uses local ingredients
and the marriage of the cheese, fish roe and the gnocchi
with olive oil and ripe plum tomatoes is just heaven.
What is your favourite French food?
Cassoulet with confit duck leg - great dish. Can't
beat Toulouse Sausage again a very classic and regional
dish, it's the most high class comfort food for me.
What is your favourite World food?
Greek meze - love all the different textures, flavours,
the simplicity of the dishes. Almost peasant food but
just well made. Not talking commercial here talking
restaurants where if the Greek people are eating there
then that's the one for me.
What do you like most about your job?
The fact that you can learn something new everyday
and it's a place to really indulge my passion for food.
Teaching is also great, seeing trainees learning and
being enthused by what they are learning puts a big
smile on my face.
How would you describe eating in the UK to someone who's
never visited it?
You can get your home cooking or cuisine as well
as food from around the world all more or less on your
door step, especially in London. But if it's British
food you're after then be prepared for large portions
but good homely cooking.
Do you think food in the UK has changed for the better
since the days of Duck with Orange and huge helpings
of Black Forest Gateau?
I believe we have become a lot more conscious about
food and what we eat. Food has evolved so much in this
country. We now have more choice and people are actually
now trying new foods. We now have a different idea about
what quality and good food is.
What's the best thing about eating in the UK?
The cosmopolitan array of foods in this country.
You can find every type of cuisine for more or less
And the worst?
Lack of seasonality, consistence of quality and the
shortage of British ingredients and dishes on menus.
We as a nation have some great products and classic
dishes but we tend to shy away from them.
At what sort of place do you regularly go to eat?
Tend to try and find little hidden restaurants that
just serve good food. Food that is cooked perfectly
and where the flavours work I will take all day long
over, trendy places that everybody goes to but if it's
too busy quality can suffer.
Would you like to live and work somewhere other than
the UK and if so where and why?
Truthfully I am a real home boy and there are many
great areas to visit and learn from food wise. But if
it came to it I would love to spend time in Hong Kong
or Singapore with their culture, markets and food -
would be a great learning curve.
What's your favourite food?
Offal has to be my favourite. Everything from stuffed
hearts to kidney turbago to tripe. If it's on a menu
then I will always order a dish. Think it's down to
being a kid and my mother buying these items as they
were better for you with iron and protein but also they
were cheap as no one really brought them. Remember kid's
faces when I used to say I was having liver and bacon
When did you first get involved in cooking?
As a child with my Mum on Sundays, baking cakes
and pies for the week or helping with the roast. Also
my Nan and Granddad were good cook's who taught me how
to make things out of what's in your cupboard - between
them they were a great starter in this career. After
that it was a Greek family who I worked for as a teenager
in their restaurant they taught me about passion for
food and the value of front of house as well as the
What sort of people have you cooked for during your
career? Most memorable or most forgettable?
I have cooked for just about every type of person,
sports persons like Nasim Hamed to MPs to TV and film
stars. Most memorable would be a special dinner for
Nelson Mandela. The man is the most humble person I
have ever seen.
Worst having to make egg white omelettes for certain
film stars as they were on some strange diet and it
took about six attempts to even get each one right.
My arms were like Popeye's for about three days after
all that . . . for the sake of their ego's!
Do you ever have regrets that you chose to become a
No never, no matter how busy or tired I get I always
enjoy what I do. This is not just a career it's a passion
and something I truly love. I would rather be happy
in what I do than do something I am not comfortable
What do you think you would have been if you had not
become a chef?
Well, my other passion is motorbikes so I would
have gone into racing or a mechanic - bit different
but you can still get your hands dirty and get involved.
What would be your advice to someone who is thinking
of training to be a chef?
Think long and hard about what you actually want
to do as to be a good chef takes a lot of time and commitment.
It's unsociable hours at times and can be long days
but the job satisfaction can be a great reward. It's
amazing how much respect people now have for a person
in a chef's jacket. It's a career to be proud of.
The career of one famous chef only came about because
his professional football career came to an early close
through injury, and one chef's plans to open a restaurant
never happened when he became football manager of Aberdeen
and later Manchester United. Has fate ever played a
part in your career?
Well, only the fact that when I applied to the Houses
of Parliament I originally was going to the Lords but
there was a mix up and I ended up at the Commons. Here
I met David Dorricott who pushed me on to achieve more
and do competitions and gave me the drive to want to
be a good chef. Not saying I would not have got that
in the Lords but I feel I was supposed to go to the
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