Name: Scott Barnard
Current position: Head Chef, Crockers Chefs Table in Hertfordshire
Tell us about your current role
I head the kitchen at Crockers Chef’s Table, soon to relocate to Tring in Hertfordshire, a 15 cover chef’s table where I cook monthly changing sets menus of 3-7 courses plus a few extras. Tuesday to Saturday lunch and dinner plus a 25 cover cocktail bar offering snacks, cheese, charcuterie etc.
How long have you been cooking professionally?
16 years now, an old boy!
Where did you train to cook?
Barnfield College in Luton.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
Good quality Seasonal produce and flavoursome with a light and modern approach.
Do you have a “signature dish”, or a favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
Lamb Caesar. Rack, breast, Caesar dressing, charred gem and sourdough and I used a sheep’s cheese instead of Parmesan.
Do you have a favourite ingredient?
Scallops and langoustines.
Do you have a favourite local supplier?
Tring Brewery. We use one of their beers to go in our bread. And Puddingstone Distillery just outside make amazing gin.
Is there another chef you admire?
Lots, including Simon Rogan, Adam Simmonds and Michael Wignall.
Who is the best chef you’ve worked with and why?
Russell Bateman at Colette’s, The Grove Hotel’s fine dining restaurant. An amazing chef with infectious passion and complete respect for ingredients. Forward thinking and deserves more recognition.
What is the one piece of kitchen equipment you could not live without?
Control Induction have just built our bespoke suite, the heart of the kitchen.
What is the best restaurant you have eaten at?
Eleven Madison Park in New York. Another level!
Should customers be made to pay for late cancellations?
100%. We are a small business and any cancellations will affect us. If we can fill their table then no.
What frustrates you most about customers?
Faux allergies. I cook on my own, so when we have dietary requirements I have to cook a whole new menu, almost twice the work. Buy in a suitable cheese and it turns out they just fancied the veggie menu for that night, so I’ve wasted my time and money.
What is your most awkward/demanding customer experience?
Too many to tell! At the end of the day we are chefs and professionals, it’s our job to please every customer. We all have a moan but deep down we love our job.
Do you look at TripAdvisor reviews?
Yes I do. It’s great for us. Being guest facing we talk to everybody and ask where they heard about us, 75% will say TripAdvisor.
What career advice would you give to your 15-year old self?
Keep your nut down, learn your trade and write everything down.
What would be your “last request” dish?
Easy. Pie, mash and liquor from Manze’s Pie Shop in south London.
What is your favourite cook book?
Eleven Madison Park.
How do you use social media to help you in your job?
Social media is great for inspiration.
You appeared on Masterchef Professionals in 2015. How was the experience and would you recommend it to others?
Amazing experience, they really look after you. Met some great people and chefs. I highly recommend it but only do it if you’ve learnt your trade, don’t embarrass yourself.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your job?
We have a lot of repeat customers and some have been 12 times in a year, so it’s important we cook for them and not guides. Give them an amazing experience every time.
What’s the worst kitchen injury you’ve had?
I’ve been quite lucky really but the worst was spilt pate de fruit on my hand. I’ve seen some good ones though!
And finally, what is your career ambition?
For me it’s about achieving excellence everyday and enjoying my work and personal life. Seeing the smile on the guest’s faces is amazing. And, if they rebook, then I’ve achieved that day! But any accolades are a massive pat on the back. Let’s see what happens…