Taya Black interviewed Olly Jackson, Head Chef at the New Yard Restaurant.
As Head Chef at the New Yard Restaurant for the last three years Olly Jackson’s experience has led to his influencing the menus and inspiring the kitchen staff that help create them. Last month Taya Black caught up with the well travelled chef to interview him for myCornwall magazine.
Olly Jackson, Head Chef at the New Yard Restaurant on the beautiful Trelowarren Estate, has a lot to offer those diners who travel the extra mile through the estate’s grounds to feast on the exquisite dishes on the menu. When using suppliers, like Kernow Sashimi for fish and Primrose Herd in Redruth for pork, Olly’s preferred choice is to keep it as local as possible when sourcing ingredients.
The chef’s reputation has grown in leaps and bounds thanks to the wide variety of experiences, from travelling on a food tour across Australia to his appearances on Channel 4’s ‘Three Hungry Boys’ and ITV’s ‘Britain’s Best Dish’.
So what makes him tick?
When I was younger, I wasn’t really sure what to do with my life career-wise. I never really liked school and I’ve always been far more practical than academic, so my mum suggested that I should become a plumber or a chef. I’ve always liked cooking and so the choice was easy. When I was 16-years-old I went to a college in Northampton, where I’m originally from, and eventually worked my way up through mostly two-rosette rated restaurants and hotels, from a part-time pot wash to being a head-chef at the age of 26.
I have been in the cooking industry for 14 years now, and have worked for Ruth Watson and travelled around Australia for six months with Bill Granger, a self-taught Australian chef. I eventually became the head-chef at New Yard Restaurant about three years ago after moving down to Cornwall to join my wife.
My earliest food memory is probably of my mum cooking cakes for our local church’s bake sale in Northampton. Our family wasn’t particularly ever cooking-orientated but I remember my mum baking regularly and I would help her out with it.
At New Yard, all the ingredients we use in our dishes tend to be from local sources. We use local companies such as the Cornish Duck Company and Beef off the Heath, our fish comes fresh off of the local dayboats and we use pheasants, rabbits and pigeons that have been hunted on the Trelowarren estate. All of the vegetables used are also sourced from local farmers. At the moment the main ingredients we are using are the garlic leaves found on the estate, Cornish new potatoes and all of the usual spring greens such as asparagus, sprouts and broccoli.
The hardest thing about being a chef is the unsocialable hours. A lot of my family and friends are getting married this year and it’s really hard getting the time off, I’m usually here all day. However the thing I love about this job is that everyday is different, it’s never boring as there’s always something happening and always a challenge to overcome.
The main people who inspire me are the producers, such as the Cornish Duck Company, who supply us with the products. We only use the best of the best and so it makes me want to turn the products into something great for our customers. One of my most prominent ‘chefing’ memories is from using a beef fillet supplied for an outside company for a function I was working at, it was so tender you could have cut it with a spoon – definitely the best beef fillet I’ve ever seen!
I’m often asked what my signature dish is, but the truth is I don’t really have one, I believe that every thing you cook should be your signature dish. I guess the most popular dish we serve, the one that everyone comes back for, is the pork belly, (a personal favourite) – we cook it really slowly overnight a 95 degrees with loads of herbs and salt and then roast it again the following day, it’s lovely.
I love the French style for cooking and so I would say this hugely influences my own cooking style. I’m not about small portions and I want my customers to leave New Yard feeling full. There’s nothing worse than leaving a restaurant thinking ‘that tasted great, but I’m still hungry’ so its very important to me that we deliver great tasting food that will satisfy our customers. Presentation is also extremely important, because at the end of the day, people initially eat with their eyes.
Warm Asparagus with a deep fried hen’s egg yolk
Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a light meal
16 Asparagus spears
4 Egg yolks
Flour, an Egg and Breadcrumbs for coating of the egg
Trim the asparagus so all spears are the same size, making sure the woody part is snapped off
Blanch the asparagus spears in boiling water for 3 minutes – to check they are ready use a small knife it should just slide through the stalk
Once cooked, place the asparagus in an ice bath to chill and stop from overcooking
Poach the egg yolk in simmering water for 3 minutes, remove from the hot water and transfer straight to an ice bath to chill.
Once chilled remove from ice bath, place on a clean jay cloth or tea towel and gently dry
Carefully coat in the cooked egg yolk in flour; then beaten egg and then breadcrumbs
Reheat the asparagus spears by placing in boiling water for 1 minute
Fry the egg yolk at 170oc in deep fat fryer for 1 minute
Arrange on the plate and serve with pea shoots and a drizzle of a rapeseed oil
New Yard Restaurant, Trelowarren, Mawgan, Helston TR12 6AF
01326 221 595
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