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What’s cooking? Jamie Dobbin executive chef at The Drumming Snipe

The former head chef at the Ivy on the perfect poached egg, his kitchen must-haves and cooking for HRH The Queen.

Jamie Dobbin’s kitchen career reads like a guide to London’s fine dining. He trained at Claridge’s then moved on to Hush and Racine, before starting a tour of top London hotels and restaurants that would make a wealthy widow weep with envy. We’re talking The Berkley, The Connaught and The Savoy, The Ivy and The Groucho Club. He’s now the co-owner of The Drumming Snipe in Mayford, as well as The Greene Oak in Windsor.

We caught up with him to find out more about his approach to cooking, his most eye-watering kitchen moments and, most importantly, the ingredient he couldn’t live without.

Jamie Dobbin, chef

Your first job (in a kitchen)?

As a pot wash kitchen hand at The Black Gate restaurant in Newcastle, about 1995! I was a young 15 year old taken under the wing of the Chef Patron – Douglas Jordan.

Career highlight?

There are many, but to use all of the learnings over the years and join forces with my best mate James Lyon Shaw to launch Brucan pubs is at the top of the list.

Sum up your cooking style/ food philosophy…

Robust British cookery allowing seasonal ingredients to shine from producer, farmer and fisherman to the plate.

Most memorable moment at work?

My first head chef job, I was promoted from sous chef at Ivy West Street to the opening Head chef of The Club at The Ivy, I was 26 years old and probably not ready but grabbed the bull by the horns and I spent over four years there as Head Chef.

Ever cooked for anyone famous?

HRH Queen Elizabeth 2, can’t really surpass that.

Your biggest mistake at work?

As a young chef I left a plastic storage container of crushed pepper next to the hot stove, subsequently it melted and the peppery smoke engulfed the kitchen causing eyes to water and noses to sting.  Needless to say, I wasn’t very popular that day

You’re tired, starving and impatient: what do you cook for dinner?

Beans on toast every time. Cheap white bread, salted butter, warm beans, green tabasco, yum!

What would you cook to impress a date?

My wife loves scallops, chateaubriand, strawberry pavlova, champagne.  Can’t really go wrong….

Favourite chef?

Fergus Henderson.  His understanding of simplicity is luxury personified.

Favourite cookbook?

Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking by Fergus Henderson.

Favourite type of cuisine?

My favourite to cook is British but I am partial to a good Indian when relaxing at home.

Favourite kitchen gadget?

My Sharpening steel.  It’s incredibly old and well used. So many people forget to sharpen their tools!!

Favourite local café?

Battersea Bridge café, a proper greasy spoon that works wonders for the occasional hangover.

Restaurant?

[Fergus Henderson’s restaurants] St John. Perfection in simplicity.

Hotel?

Claridge’s Hotel London, it’s where I cut my teeth as an apprentice. It’s such a wonderful property and has a very special place in my heart.

Your three favourite markets and suppliers?

Maltby Street Market in Borough, London

Fresh Connect are incredible, they have amazing produce and also do home delivery so restaurant quality ingredients direct to your door.

I am also fond of the Columbia Road Flower Market

Favourite things to eat when you’re on holiday?

Fresh local produce, we holiday in Mallorca and the markets there are amazing, and they only sell what’s in season. I like a nice cold local beer too!

What mistake do inexperienced cooks tend to make?

Not being humble and not listening.

Favourite ingredient and why?

Salt, sounds ridiculous but it has so much versatility both in savoury and sweet preparations.

Most over-rated dish / ingredient?

The use of gold leaf or caviar and such like in dishes like burgers. Good honest food should be good and honest not look at me I’m trying too hard.

The dish you’re most proud of creating?

There are quite a few but simply doing things well, a giant Yorkshire pudding, a beautiful meringue, and even the basic thing like mashed potato, made with equal quantities of butter and potato fill me with pride.

Three dishes every home cook should master?

Poached eggs; roast chicken and risotto.

Loads of us are really bored of our own cooking right now – any advice.

Cook seasonally, what grows in season usually will eat well together. And don’t be afraid to edit a recipe. Recipes are guidelines and can be changed.

The Drumming Snipe, Guildford Rd, Mayford, GU22 9QT. Tel: 01483 610010

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