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Philip Verden

Lord Poulett Arms’ long-standing head chef talks Stephen Fry, parsley sprinkles and kefir …
Philip Verden

Lord Poulett Arms’ long-standing head chef talks Stephen Fry, parsley sprinkles and kefir …

What’s the one kitchen item you couldn’t live without?

It would have to be my fish slice; I’ve had it since I was 16. It’s burnt, gnarly and broken but I use it for everything from buttering bread to stirring spinach. It’s more sentimental than anything yet I can’t do service without it – I’ve had chefs searching through the bins when it has gone missing.

What’s your earliest food memory?

Cooking Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes with my mum on a Sunday morning – I’d help make the batter and prep the potatoes. Every week we would have roast chicken and stuffing with incredible roasties; I still can’t recreate her recipe.

Where do you like to eat out?

Eating fish and chips on the beach at West Bay is a family favourite. We’ll go down to the little kiosk and I’ll order classic cod and chips with lots of ketchup and tartare sauce.

One of the best meals I ever had was at Gidleigh Park when Michael Caines was head chef. I still remember the lamb and ratatouille dish – it was so simple but executed so well. The same week I was lucky enough to dine at The Fat Duck and at one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants but Michael’s food was by far the most memorable.

Like to have supper with?

This is something I discuss with my family all the time. My ultimate line-up would be Stephen Fry for the stories he’d tell, Bear Grylls to keep the kids entertained, Eddie Izzard to keep the mood up and Charlie Trotter as he’s always been a great inspiration of mine.

Wish you’d known 10 years ago?

To calm down, and that everything would be okay in the end. When you’re young you want to go at 100 miles-per-hour and conquer everything yourself. I wish I’d known it was okay to slow down and ask for help.

Which food trend would you rather forget?

When I was 17 I worked at a golf course in St Andrews where we were told to sprinkle finely chopped parsley and paprika on the rim of every white plate – whatever we were serving. It was ridiculous; there would always be a big thumb print in the garnish from where you’d picked up the plate.

Pet hates when eating out?

I don’t like the intrusiveness of fine dining restaurants these days; I appreciate being left alone and enjoying the meal at my own pace. I’m also done with gimmicks like foams and gels – just give me the sauce.

What’s hot at the moment?

Pickling and fermenting have become buzzwords. It’s funny because they’re techniques that have been used for centuries. I’ve always enjoyed making things like sauerkraut and kimchi. My wife swears by kefir every morning and I’m coming around to using it in the kitchen.

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