Head chef: Coutts Bank
What inspired you to become a chef?
I spent much of my childhood in Italy and spent a lot of time helping family and fellow villagers grow our own produce. Plus I helped mum make pasta, breads, polenta, all by hand: the foundation of a love affair with food that meant I was destined to work in the food industry.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love seasonal harvest-to-plate cookery, creativity, and the buzz of a busy service.
The constant, and constantly changing, fads that have crept into our business over the years.
What is your favourite game bird to cook at home?
I love grey partridge, it’s simple to cook at home and tastes love grey partridge, it’s simple to cook at home and tastes great.
What is the most important thing to bear in mind when cooking game at home?
Check for shot, and let your guests know there may be shot in the meat. Always cook meat from room temperature, always cook pink, and rest the meat well after cooking as otherwise it can become very dry.
What game in particular benefits from hanging?
Generally I think shot birds are far better eaten fresh with minimal hanging time. However cock pheasant needs to be hung well, as I believe it improves the eating.
You are cooking for a dinner party at home with game as the primary ingredient, what would you serve for starters and mains?
A venison tartare to start and a main course of roast grouse with macerated grapes, charred onions, and walnut dressing.
Is there a particular game dish you serve regularly in your restaurant?
Tagliolini with hare sauce and rainbow chard. How would you describe what makes game different?It’s earthy, lean and full of flavour and served pink so different from chicken.
What is the best way of encouraging people to eat more game?
Get it on the menu as soon as it’s in season. Your front of house team need to encourage guest to choose game dishes. And make sure you’re cooking the game to its full potential.
What’s the best – and worst – game dish you’ve
Best, venison Wellington with pink peppercorns and quince purée. Worst, I had roasted sparrow in Italy many years ago. Fortunately this is now illegal. I felt awful when I found out it was sparrow.
Is there any game you don’t – or wouldn’t – eat?
It’s important that it’s sustainable, so I would never eat game if I don’t know where it’s from.