Putting fresh ideas and ingredients alike into the menus here at Bickley Mill is our esteemed Head Chef Chris Lowe. This month we sneaked into the kitchen to quiz him about all things culinary. Besides being a fan of fresh Devon ingredients and West Country cuisine, he's a well-travelled foodie. We're not sure all of the following will appear on our menus any time soon however...
Tell us a little bit about your love of food; were you always interested in cooking from a young age?
Yes, I started helping to make cakes and puddings at home from a young age and then got a part time job in a kitchen at 15. I have been in the catering industry ever since and I simply couldn't imagine not working with food.
Which type of produce do you like working with the most? I like to work with local produce and support local businesses as much as possible. Living in Devon, we are spoiled really, whether it's fresh fish or organic fruit and veg- and there's always something seasonal to look forward to.
What's your favourite dish to cook at home?
I like to cook Italian food at home, mostly pasta dishes with different sauces.
What’s your favourite foodie destination?
Morocco is my favourite foodie destination. The variety of herbs and spices on sale at the local markets is amazing, as is the street food. So much colour and variety!
Morocco makes for a spicy travel destination (Image: Troy Pickard/ Wikicommons Media)
What is your favourite tipple? I enjoy the odd glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc.
Do you have any current favourite ingredients?
I don’t have a favourite ingredient as such, just whatever is seasonal. Variety is the spice of life, as they say and the range of great ingredients you can find in Devon is mind boggling. Perhaps this is why I would struggle to single out just one. It's a nice problem to have as a chef.
Have you ever cooked anything really strange or unusual?
I have cooked with many different meats over the years, but perhaps the most eye-opening was alligator. Not your average fodder for someone who lives in Devon, but it was actually very tasty.
Not appearing on the menu at Bickley Mill soon!
What are the best and worst meals you can remember eating?!
I think the best I have ever tasted was an absolutely beautifully seasoned lamb tagine in Morocco. The worst would probably be a not overly fresh fish platter in the back streets of a small town in Cyprus. A recipe for trouble if ever there was one.
Could you give a quick cooking tip for those of us who are less-than-expert in the kitchen?
Keep it simple and don’t overcomplicate with too many flavours or ingredients. Tasty cooking needn't be rocket science and if you keep it fresh and simple you can concentrate on cooking things perfectly, not juggling dozens of ingredients.
What do you enjoy doing when not cooking?
I enjoy the experience of travelling to new places, especially where there is great food involved! I also enjoy cycling and a game of darts. I used to play a lot of football but had to retire due to injury.
To see for yourself what Chris and our team are presently conjuring up, why not come and dine with us this month? We are constantly utilising the best in seasonal and local produce to bring you a tasty and original menu, packed with favourites and current specials alike. See our selected menus section and Facebook page to see why we are one of the best places to eat in South Devon!