Simmie's Recipes: Introduction

Simmie's Recipes: Introduction

It's Okay To Play With Your Food

Emeril Lagasse once said "It's okay to play with your food", I think I just took that and ran with it.

Starting out cooking at home was fun; you get a glass of wine or a tumbler of rum and you pore over the stove in a leisurely fashion. My father taught me to cook curries and all the food we would eat at home, then I would alter everything to suit my tastes. I had a few years with this romanticised version of cooking, learning at a steady pace and becoming more and more interested in higher-end food.

The Turning Point

I studied law and politics (along with one whole week of photojournalism) before setting my heart on a career in cooking. The turning point was when I had an interview for a prestigious job in London; I found I couldn't tell the interviewers why I wanted the job. At least, nothing that would set me apart. It was shortly after this, while I was studying, that my dad suggested I try to get a job in a kitchen.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where my romanticised version of cooking ended... but it's also where my real passion began to develop. My goal since starting has always been to gain experience in the hospitality industry with a view to having my own restaurant one day, and I'd like to think that I'm making a little progress after four years!

Working in a kitchen was (and is!) hard, hard work. I'm quite a sedentary person, so the hours and the sheer graft shocked my system. I'm not sure what made me persevere, and admittedly I was exhausted at the start. I got ill a lot in those first couple of years but the more I've worked full-time as a chef the more I've developed an immunity to a lot of the colds and sniffles I used to get.

Kitchen Career

My first "proper" kitchen was a Marston's pub - my head chef was fortunately very keen on cooking everything he could to order and would make a great effort when putting specials on. From there I worked in a few indie restaurants in Cardiff, including Got Beef and Bar 44.

I would love to say I was successful at first but I really wasn't; the knowledge and passion were there but the commitment was faltering. It took my first job alone in a kitchen to really make me sort my shit out. I learned so much and I learned it by making a lot of mistakes but trying in earnest to only make that mistake once. It was only sandwiches and cafe food but, for someone as inexperienced as me, it was something I needed to do to improve. I was driven by the fact there was no-one else to do my job but me (plus my manager on my days off). I was also blessed with a lovely team, with all of whom I still keep in touch.

I then moved to Dusty Knuckle as their head chef in April 2019, which is how I came to know Matt and fall in love with the way he creates plateware, as it was originally used in Nook, opposite Victoria Park in Cardiff.

Lockdown and Learning

It wasn’t until the first lockdown this year that I plucked up some courage to message Matt and ask what he had in stock. From there, I started cooking like a demon and just consistently adored how my food and Matt’s plates seemed to work in beautiful harmony. Even plates he didn’t think were great, I saw utter beauty in. Which is always the way with artists and creatives; we all tend to be more critical of our own work. Matt’s plates have given me spectacular canvases to create on; a work of art within themselves, before my food even touches the plate.

After six months away from work due to coronavirus, I now work for Pasture, and it's easily the most professional kitchen I've ever been in. The staff are all so accomplished and it makes for a great teaching environment. Which of course, means even more learning, unlearning and relearning. I think it's actually my favourite part of being a chef: you never stop learning.

Speaking of education, I will be using this space provided on Matthew Jones Ceramics’ website to share a few recipes and musings with you. This (for now) is the only place I’ll be sharing recipes, all of course using Matt’s plates! I hope you guys are as excited as I am!

Till next time,

Chef Simmie

To check out what plates are currently available click here.