As the Ingham Swan reopens, Chef Patron Daniel Smith tells us he likes Worcestershire Sauce, modern art and family trips to a certain pizza chain!
Who are you and where do you work?
My name is Daniel Smith. Along with my business partner, Gregory Adjemian, I own The Ingham Swan, The Wildebeest in Stoke Holy Cross and Warwick St Social in Norwich’s Golden Triangle.
Where did you train?
I’m a Norfolk boy, born and bred. I grew up in Caister-on-Sea and from the age of 12 knew I wanted to be a chef. Starting with a Saturday job at the Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach turning candy-floss and selling ice cream, I later experienced the frenetic world of a professional kitchen as a Kitchen Hand at The Imperial Hotel, learning on the job alongside school studies. At 16 I went to Great Yarmouth College for a two-year full-time qualification in general catering whilst I continued working as a chef at The Imperial. College trips to London offered an insight into other opportunities outside Norfolk and I began to hand out my CV. My first big break came at the 2-star Michelin London Restaurant, Le Gavroche, at the tender age of 18 as Commis Chef, then Chef de Partie, working alongside many ‘Le Roux’ trained chefs.
Following a thorough immersion into the world of classic French haute cuisine, I decided to return to my Norfolk roots and joined the team at Morston Hall as Chef de Partie alongside Galton Blackiston and going on to become Head Chef. The Restaurant received a Michelin star when I was aged just 23. After five years, I joined Animal Inns and enjoyed a 10-year career there, including Head Chef at The Wildebeest Restaurant, awarded 2 AA Rosettes, and became Executive Chef working across their portfolio of venues.
But, like many aspiring chefs, I always wanted my own restaurant and took on the management of The Ingham Swan in April 2010 and had the opportunity to purchase the freehold from Woodforde’s Brewery in 2013. It is now well-established in the market and has built a loyal customer base, earning a number of coveted awards and accolades including a Michelin Bib Gourmand, 2 AA Rosettes for food and featuring in the Waitrose Good Food Guide.
Who is your favourite chef?
I’m a big fan of Clare Smyth MBE, arguably the world’s best female chef. As a protege of Gordon Ramsay, she became the first female British chef to hold and retain three Michelin stars. In 2018 I was able to spend time with her and the team in her restaurant, Core, in London and her attention to detail just blew my mind.
What three ingredients do you always have in the cupboard?
1. Butter, although not strictly kept in the cupboard of course, has an almost magical power that excels at elevating the taste of so many things. It has so many uses – sautéing, poaching, as a base and thickener for sauces, to finish vegetables, fish, and risotto, and for baking. Or you can just spread it on a piece of bread. What’s better than that? 2. Salt – a kitchen staple to enhance and accentuate taste 3. Worcestershire Sauce – it’s perfect for adding flavour to so much such as chilli and spaghetti Bolognese and it’s also a perfect seasoning to add into marinades for meat.
What’s your foodie guilty pleasure?
Pizza Express! One of the best chain restaurants with consistent food and service and a welcoming environment for the family.
Describe a perfect meal
I love cooking and eating fish, especially skate wing. My favourite meat is saltmarsh lamb with fresh in-season asparagus from the Tacons at Rollesby, and to finish probably some fabulous Norfolk cheese.
Where do you like to eat out in Norfolk and beyond?
To catch up with friends, I might head to Haggle on St Benedict’s Street in Norwich. They serve Middle-Eastern dishes which are perfect for sharing. I also try and get to London when I can; it is always great for inspiration. I really enjoy visiting Kerridge’s Bar & Grill at the Corinthia Hotel.
Tell us something we don’t know about you
I love collecting art, modern art in particular, and I have a wide range of different pieces from a cross-section of artists.
A favourite tipple?
A good French wine is always my first choice.
What are your foodie predictions for the next few months?
Further moves away from industrialised food production and more home cooking! Healthy food trends are a sure bet to continue such as plant-based, and the fact that, in recent years, sugar has overtaken both salt and fat to be considered the ultimate nutrition demon.
Featured in issue 35 – April 2019