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Food Therapy: Elly Wentworth

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The former MasterChef: The Professionals finalist (and favourite) talks about life after Lucknam Park as she takes over one of the South West’s most iconic restaurants, The Angel in Dartmouth, in her first head chef role

Elly Wentworth, The Angel

WHICH FOODS TAKE YOU BACK TO CHILDHOOD?

Eating apple crumble with my grandad when I was about nine. He grew apples in his garden in Wimborne in Dorset and we’d often make a crumble together. Roast dinner is another happy memory – when I moved to Plymouth, aged 11, I would help my stepmum cook for the family. Peeling veg was my first real introduction to cooking.

WHAT DOES HOME TASTE LIKE?

Comforting. My dad and I will often cook something like steak together – a meal we wouldn’t eat every day but that’s simple to prepare.

WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?

I haven’t eaten yet but most days before service I’ll have a bowl of porridge after the gym to keep me going. Once or twice a week I’ll get the kitchen team together for a proper breakfast and we’ll have scrambled eggs and bagels.

WHAT WOULD YOU NEVER EAT AGAIN?

I’ll try anything once but I really hate sea urchin: the smell, the texture – they’re just not for me.

WHAT’S YOUR BAD DAY COMFORT FOOD FIX?

If I’m having a stressful day I’ll usually call my dad for some advice but if that doesn’t work I’ll reach for a Wispa. I’ve not got an overly sweet tooth so if that doesn’t hit the spot something like a chicken and stuffing sandwich normally does the trick.

WHAT’S IN YOUR CUPBOARDS?

Plenty of coffee – it’s my downfall. I’ve also always got a healthy stock of rice. When I need a quick fix I’ll rustle up a big batch of chicken, rice and spicy beans with some fresh veg.

WHICH RESTAURANTS MAKE YOU HAPPY?

When I was sous chef at Lucknam Park in Wiltshire, I loved The Pig near Bath. I’d order the ham hock terrine or tomato and mozzarella salad. Now I’m in Dartmouth, The Cornish Arms in Tavistock is one of my favourites – chef patron John Hooker’s cooking isn’t fussy but still impressive.

IS THERE A DISH YOU’D RATHER FORGET?

To be honest, the first version of any dish is never right. For example, the chocolate bar dessert we have on the menu at the moment started out with raisin and almond, it now features lime caramel and pistachio. It’s a process of tasting, getting other people to try it and swapping ingredients in and out until you get something fantastic.

WHAT DO YOU EAT WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING?

We’ve got these milk rolls with miso butter on at the moment … I’ve been known to test one or two.

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