Here’s cooking with you...Lee Bonner, head chef at The English Wine Barn Café
PUBLISHED: 17:30 09 June 2014
Lee Bonner, head chef at The English Wine Barn Café, talks about his need for speed and the slippery situation he encountered on his first day working at a restaurant in the capital
Where do you work?
I am the head chef at The English Wine Barn Cafe at West Street Vineyard in Coggeshall.
What is your earliest food memory? Making scones in my mum’s kitchen and adding dried rosemary to them as an experiment.
What was your first ever job and where was it?
I started out as a trainee chef at a small hotel in Chelmsford.
What was it about food which excited you enough to make a career out of it?
I like art and being creative. I find that food allows me to use those aspects of my personality, which I enjoy.
If you weren’t on the stoves, where would you be now?
I think I might have ended up as a motor bike mechanic.
Who would you love to cook for and why?
I’d love to cook for Michael Roux junior. In particular I would love to see him enjoy my food and to hear his feedback on the dishes I prepare.
How would your team describe you?
I think I am a fair head chef to work for, so hopefully their comments would reflect that.
Which is your favourite dish to prepare?
I think it would have to be handmade ravioli. I just love the skill involved and then the textures and flavours you can produce with what is a relatively simple dish.
Who was your inspiration to take up cooking and how do they affect what you do now?
I think it would be Gordon Ramsay who was one of my biggest inspirations. I just love to watch him work in the kitchen.
Which are your three favourite ingredients to work with?
I like to use spring vegetables, lamb and shellfish.
Are there any celebrity moments you can share with us?
Unfortunately not. I have never yet had the chance to cook for a famous name. Maybe one day.
Tell us a bit about you at home — where do you originally come from and how did you end up here?
I was born in Chelmsford and then moved to work in Leeds and London. Obviously I’m now back home again in Essex, which is something I’m very happy about.
At home — who lives there and who cooks most of the time?
My brother and I live together, but I do all the cooking.
When I’m not in the kitchen I love nothing better than…..
Getting on my motor bike or mountain bike and exploring.
When I was little I wanted to be….
A motorcycle racer, riding the fastest bikes in the world.
Kitchen disasters? Are there any you’d rather forget ….
I remember, on my very first day working at my new job in London, I was asked to fill up a fryer with oil. Unfortunately, I did it with the valve still open so the oil ran out over the floor.
If you could change one thing about you, what would it be?
I’d like to be more sensible with money.
What is still on life’s list of things to do?
It’s quite simple. I’d like to drive more fast cars and motor bikes.
Can you give us your three top tips for the kitchen?
Whatever happens… don’t panic, keep calm and carry on.