Chef Q&A: Gopi Chandran of Sopwell House
The executive head chef of the St Albans country house hotel talks unusual combinations, going veggie and cooking with love
Describe your style
Modern British with influences from French and Asian cooking.
How do you decide your menus?
Our menus are based on seasons, availability of the produce, and latest food trends.
Do you use local producers?
Not specifically, as we try to use the best of British produce within the country, so we source from all over.
Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing?
I especially enjoy cooking with fresh oily fish like mackerel.
They need less preparation and the fresh fish does the talking. Respect the fish, season correctly and add a garnish to complement and the end product will be outstanding.
What ingredient is most important to your cooking?
Cook from your heart and your food will be delicious, but also the obvious ones are salt and pepper.
Your best culinary idea?
I like combining meat and fish such as my signature dish, fricassee of monkfish with veal sweetbreads, morels and tarragon – delicious!
Who did you train under and what did they teach you?
David Ali was my mentor. He was a former Michelin head chef of The Canteen at Chelsea Harbour, which was jointly owned by Marco Pierre White and Michael Caine.
The next food trend?
More people are moving towards becoming healthier and more conscious generally of what they are eating. This is obviously due to the pollution of land and sea with plastics and other foreign matter which gets into the food chain, along with the campaign around sustainability. I also do see a trend in people wanting ‘a taste of home’, where guests come to the restaurant to enjoy home comforts, but done in a way that they may not be able to create in their own kitchens.
How are you keeping busy in lockdown?
I am cooking for my family, learning new techniques ready for when the kitchens at Sopwell House are open again, and doing things that chefs never normally have time to do like organising my recipes and mastering the art of sour dough bread!
Quick grill –
What’s in your fridge at home?
Roast ham, mature cheddar and peri peri sauce
Favourite quick meal?
Top three tips for amateur cooks?
1. Keep it simple
2. Respect and understand the ingredients
French Laundry by Thomas Keller