It might come as a shock but the owner of The Black Swan, touted the ‘world’s best restaurant’, is no stranger to using year-old veggies in his award-winning dishes.
Tommy Banks has a fair few accolades under his belt: he’s Britain’s youngest Michelin-Starred chef and his North Yorkshire-based restaurant, which he runs with his brother James, was recently named the best restaurant in the world in the annual Travellers’ Choice TripAdvisor awards.
In the latest episode of ‘The Chefs’ Chefs’, Tommy is visited by Florence Knight, former head chef of Soho’s Polpetto restaurant, to discuss the secret to running a top-notch eatery.
Tommy is passionate about growing and foraging for ingredients from the local land. Discussing how he made his mark in the industry, he reveals: “I found that I was cooking nice food, but it was out of other people’s cookbooks.
“I started to look at the history of my family, and what we did was growing and farming, so that’s been the inspiration behind the restaurant since then.”
Some of the dishes he shares with Florence include: ‘raw deer, beer and woodland gear’ a smoked deer tartar inspired by his youth (“nostalgic ideas are often the best ones,” he explains); beetroot cooked in beef fat, which looks more like a slab of steak than a slice of year-old beetroot that he’s fished out of storage; and scallops cured in rhubarb juice.
The secret, for Tommy, is being able to get out and about, forage from the land, and then return to the “claustrophobic” kitchen with a fresh mind.
As he puts it: “When you go back in, you’re in a great headspace and it’s just so good for creativity.”