ULTRA VIE – Tom Kerridge | The King of Pub Food

Michelin-starred chef and author of ‘Proper Pub Food’, Tom Kerridge, talks to Ultra Vie about his TV series, his secret kitchen weapons and why gastropubs are the best new trend in the restaurant scene.

Pub food has definitely come a long way since the arrival of gastropubs at the end of the 90s and 2 Michelin Stars for the Hand & Flowers in 2012 is evidence of this. Where do you think that this trend of higher quality food in a more relaxed environment is heading?

More and more chefs are moving into the pub environment as it allows perhaps a little more relaxed attitude to cooking and food on a plate, where chefs can cook a little freer from constraint and a place where the customer is more comfortable in their surroundings. I think more and more people will open pubs and restaurants with this attitude to cooking and service that is user friendly, after all good food should be for everyone, not just a privileged few. As long as we continue to offer value for money this sector of the industry can continue to grow.

Congratulations on your new cooking book ‘Proper Pub Food’. Could you please tell us more about how the book came about and what we can expect from it?

We first decided to do a book a couple of years ago when we were looking at doing a Hand & Flowers cook book and not long after that decision, we were approached to see if we would like to make a television series, so the content of the book changed, but the style and ethos behind the food remained the same, however the dishes are aimed for the home cook to be able to recreate.

What is your favourite recipe from ‘Proper Pub Food’?

My favourite recipe is the hay backed chicken with cider gravy and whole roast celeriac because I think in essence it sums up my ethos to cooking of finding great ingredients and just making sure that they taste fantastic and cooked in a slightly more interested fashion than perhaps you would normally cook at home.

Please describe three of your secret weapons in the kitchen?

First and foremost, a nice sharp knife and a large chopping board, these are the most important things for a prep work that really do make your life easier, just watch those fingers! Secondly, very good cookware, with heavy bottoms that conducts heat nice and evenly. This really will help you cook on a much more consistent basis. Also, a nice pan to last you a lifetime. And lastly a blowtorch, this can provide a super charred and lovely smoke taste to food, gives dishes a nice colour and cooks fish very quickly. Also, its just very cool to use!

You’ve also filmed a TV series called ‘Proper Pub Food’ to be shown by the BBC. What sort of things will be explored in the TV show that won’t be available in the book?

The book and the TV show go hand in hand and hopefully give a vibe and feel that cooking should be fun. But with the TV show, you do get to meet some of the characters that are involved in my life, butchers, fish mongers and the occasional family member.

Pub food is an area that has a lot of room for experienced chefs that want to take food to the next level. Where do you want to take your pub food next?

The food at The Hand & Flowers is based on strong and simple cooking techniques where we just want to become consistent in everything we do and drive ourselves to be better every day. At the minute, I have a fantastic opportunity to use my voice to raise the profile of great British food being served in pubs up and down to country to the rest of the world. Given the opportunity, I’ll tell everybody how good we are in Great Britain.

Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food is published by Absolute Press, £20.00 Hardback.
The BBC2 series of the same name is on Monday evenings at 8.30pm.