Updated: Aug 2
Andy joined The Crown Inn as Head Chef last June and so has now been with us for just over a year. He has helped enormously with our drive to use as much local produce as possible and we are really pleased with all the great feedback we continue to get from our well-fed guests - the kitchen is now a buzzing hub of prep with lots (and lots) of chopping and mixing accompanied by the comforting smells of home-made culinary tastiness.
We asked Andy to divulge a little bit about himself and you can read what he said below...
Where were you born? Farnborough Hospital just outside Orpington in Kent.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a chef, either that or join the army.
What was your best subject at school? Again, it was cooking, that or PE.
How long have you been a chef? Since I was 16, so all my working life.
What is the best thing about being a chef? Playing with knives, haha! I like getting really involved with food prep, I like the butchering aspect of preparing meat and I like working with seasonal produce.
We know you love your job, but what is the worst thing about being a chef? It’s obviously very cliché but if you’re a chef you generally have a limited social life!
What would your favourite birthday meal be? Depends on my mood I guess, but a really good Surf’n’turf with cracking quality ingredients would be my go to – I like a good fillet steak with lobster combo.
What is your signature dish or style of food? I don’t really have a signature dish but I have a lot of Greek and Mediterranean influence in my cooking having worked in those cuisines for a large part of my career.
Why is local produce so important? For me, I didn’t feel that many places I’d eaten down here captured the best of Cornish other then when you went to the really high end restaurants. Never seeing Cornish brill or crab on many of the menus made me want to tap into that more, especially as there is such a good selection of locally produced ingredients. It is challenging to serve this kind of food simply because of the time, effort (and raw cost) which goes into putting the dish onto the plate, but we do work really hard to find that sweet spot balance of high quality and good value.
What is your ethos in the kitchen at The Crown Inn? Enjoy what you do! Making the kitchen a great environment for everyone to work in, having a laugh, as long as the job gets done properly. Coming to work should be a pleasure and we have such a great, close-knit team at The Crown. Music helps the job go faster and if there’s time for a bit of air guitar, then all the better.
On the subject of music then, who is your favourite band? That’s easy, Queen is my all time favourite band but also I’m a great fan of Alter Bridge, The Foo Fighters and Metallica.
What's your favourite hobby/passtime? Probably running and playing guitar but there isn’t much time for either!
Which three famous people (dead or alive) would you have at your dinner party? Brian May as he’s my favourite guitarist of all time, James Toseland because I’ve read his autobiography and found that very interesting and Gary Rhodes because he was one of the first celebrity chefs that was an inspiration to me.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the pub industry? With the number of pubs shutting on a daily basis (I think they said 30 a day at the moment) the greatest challenge is obviously trying to compete against all the bigger brands and chains – I genuinely feel like they’ve ruined the industry for us, driving down prices and quality to levels that make it impossible for us to compete.
What can we look forward to on our plates at The Crown this Autumn and Winter? I haven’t thought about it yet!!! Genuinely, we tend to serve what’s available and seasonal so it is hard to predict exactly what we will be offering but obviously there will be local game, our high quality ‘Trevarthen’ steaks are going really well at the moment and there's always space for a home-made faggot!
What do you think sets The Crown apart from other pubs? Being independent and offering such a wide range of locally-sourced food which is all made in-house does separate us from many other pubs. Tim and Jos have done a great job at re-invigorating this ancient local pub back to what it should be and re-creating that friendly, authentic atmosphere that is missing from so many of the bigger brands. We do put the locals at the top of our list and I think there is something for everyone here at The Crown – we haven’t become too niche and I think our menu echoes that as well.
And finally the most important question….. Marmite? Yes or no? Absolutely, 100%