The Olive Tree restaurant’s head chef Chris Cleghorn has worked with Heston Blumenthal, Michael Caines and Adam Simmonds. He talked to food about inspiration – and why he wishes he’d concentrated more in maths class
Salty or sweet?
I have a terrible sweet tooth – desserts have always been my favourite.
Early food memory
My nan’s cooking when I was young. She’d cook homemade roast beef and cakes, which were excellent.
Like to eat out?
It depends on my mood but I like fine dining restaurants as a way to learn and find inspiration – it opens your mind to other ideas. I ate at Whatley Manor recently and it was exceptional.
Feeling inspired by?
I love asparagus at the moment. We chargrill it for an earthy flavour and it keeps that lovely bittersweet taste. Wild garlic is another favourite – it’s great chargrilled too as it intensifies the flavour.
Wish you’d known ten years ago?
I wish I’d known how important maths skills are! Working out costings is a big part of your job as head chef.
The Red Lion in East Chisenbury, which has a Michelin star but which is very unpretentious. The food is clean and crisp, and of a really high standard.
Favourite way to cook?
The classical way – roasted in a pan in the oven – that’s how you get the most flavour out of everything.
Like to have supper with?
Gordon Ramsay – he’s a chef I admire. It’d be interesting to hear his stories. Thomas Keller [of The French Laundry in California] would be good too, I’ve always found his food very interesting and he’s a great chef.
Favourite weekend breakfast?
French toast with smoked bacon and maple syrup.
On the up?
Barbecuing and chargrilling is becoming more popular, as are foraged ingredients. I also think fine dining restaurants are making a comeback, with top quality, locally sourced food, knowledgeable staff and everything else that you’d want – but served in a more relaxed atmosphere. Value for money is important: our tasting menu is £65 and we don’t use cheap cuts, because it’s all about creating an experience.