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Ask the expert - 43 1

Ask the expert – 43

Visit www.rogerhickmansrestaurant.com

Published in Feast, issue 43 – February 2020.

What’s the most romantic meal you have ever had?
Two come to mind. The first was when I was 23, and my girlfriend at the time was working in New York. I flew over and met her at a restaurant called Gotham Bar and Grill on 12th Street, just off 5th Avenue.

It was one of the first American restaurants to hold a Michelin star, and I was skint at the time, so it was a big deal.  It’s modern French cuisine, and I still remember each of the dishes – I can still taste the scallops with baby gem lettuce and caviar.

The second memorable romantic meal was at The Square in Mayfair in London. This was while I was head chef at Adlards more than 15 years ago.

It is still one of the best meals I have ever had, and again I remember every dish: lamb with shallot purée and burnt shallot, and fig tart with thyme ice cream were two stand-out dishes. The meal was memorable, but so was the whole experience, in a lovely setting.

What would your advice be to home chefs who buy professional kitchen gadgets?
More and more professional gadgets are now being made available to consumers, but having the equipment won’t help you recreate restaurant-type food unless you really know how to use them: professional chefs get specific training on each new piece of equipment.

Some of them are also hugely expensive – things like a Thermomix, which costs more than £1000 with all the attachments. Most home cooks who have these only use them as blenders, which is using less than 10 percent of their potential – you may as well just buy a decent quality home blender.

That said, for the most capable home cooks who are prepared to learn how to use these kind of gadgets properly, they will help you create better dishes – but only if you have the talent to add to the mix as well.

What do customers do that annoy you the most?!
Obviously, we love all of our customers and never find them annoying! That said, parties who turn up an hour late for a booking and then complain about having to wait are unfortunately rather too common. We stagger reservations across the service so that the kitchen can work efficiently; if everybody then comes in at 8pm regardless of what time they have booked for, it’s very difficult to serve them at a level that we all want to.

The other thing which can be a bit irritating is customers asking when I’m going to get a Michelin star. I know it’s meant in a flattering way – that they think I am worthy of one is really nice – but when you are asked several times a week it can be a bit frustrating. Particularly as the answer is completely out of my control.

If you have a question for Roger, send it to sarah@feastnorfolkmagazine.co.uk

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