After 12 years at Driftwood Hotel in Cornwall, Michelin-starred chef Chris Eden has crossed the Tamar to take up the top spot at one of Devon’s most prestigious kitchens.
Kathryn Lewis discovers what makes this talented chef tick – and what he’s got planned for Gidleigh Park
WHICH FOOD TAKES YOU BACK TO CHILDHOOD?
Victoria sponge and lasagne. When I was a kid we’d go to my nan’s house and she’d bake traditional yeast buns and sponge cakes for us, while my mum was always cooking homely classics like spag bol and lasagne.
WHAT DOES HOME TASTE LIKE?
Right now: child friendly. My children are seven and one, so my wife Sam and I are cooking the same kind of things I ate as a kid. I only get one or two nights at home a week so eating with the family is really important. Today I’ve had the day off and been blackberry picking with the kids so we’ll make a crumble together this afternoon.
WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?
A sausage roll from Da Bara Bakery in Truro. Sam is a pastry chef there – she worked for Rick Stein for eight years before we had kids. She’ll probably comment on my crumble skills later.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU’D NEVER EAT AGAIN?
I won’t mention where I bought it, but I’ll never choose an all-day breakfast pasty again.
WHAT’S YOUR BAD DAY COMFORT FOOD FIX?
A simple ham sandwich on shop-bought bread with lots of butter and a cup of tea. I’ve got a terrible sweet tooth so if there’s a Toblerone in the fridge I’ll have that too.
WHICH RESTAURANTS MAKE YOU HAPPY?
My perfect Sunday would be a family lunch at Kingswood Restaurant around the corner from our home, followed by a couple of pints in the Polgooth Inn’s beer garden. We also love going to The Hidden Hut’s feast nights. Without the kids, it would be somewhere like The Seafood Restaurant or Paul Ainsworth’s.
WHAT DO YOU EAT WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING?
Anything bread-based. Sam hates Marmite but I’m a sucker for it so I have to get my toast fix when I’m at work. I’m terrible for nicking rolls and trying bread when it’s hot from the oven, too.
SELF CONTROL OR SELF INDULGENCE?
I don’t have any self control. I’ll pick and eat constantly; I know I shouldn’t but I can’t get enough.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE MOVE TO GIDLEIGH?
When I was a young lad in Cornwall, Gidleigh Park was the pinnacle of dining and what Michael Caines did there was game-changing. Driftwood has been my baby for the past 12 years and if I was ever going to leave, it was only going to be for Gidleigh. This is a dream come true.
My new menus will tell the story of the West Country as well as my life. In fact, Gidleigh was where I took Sam for our first date. She’s part Greek so I’m already planning a fig leaf dessert with olive oil ice cream using oil from her aunt’s farm.
The Great British Menu chef has acquired a trophy cabinet of accolades for his Asian-Kiwi fusion cooking at Kota. We invited him onto the Food therapy couch