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What’s Cooking? Steven Edwards, etch., Hove

The MasterChef: The Professionals winner on the perfect poached eggs, his must-have Sussex suppliers and cooking for Fatboy Slim.

It’s been a busy 12 months for former South Lodge chef Steven, who added the Steven Edwards Riverhouse in Richmond to his portfolio, alongside flagship fine dining restaurant and Michelin Plate holder etch. Muddy caught up with him to find out more about his approach to cooking, his kitchen must-haves, and most importantly, whether or not he’d have pineapple on his pizza.

Your first job (in a kitchen)?

I was 15, working in the kitchens at the Computer Associates head office in Datchet for work experience. I was only about two hours into my first day when I cut myself on a kitchen knife. Bizarrely, I loved the experience so much I decided this was what I wanted to do. After leaving school at 17 my first full time job was at Burnham Beeches Hotel, and was part of the first Corus Chefs School.

Career highlight?

It has to be MasterChef (which Steven modestly omits to mention that he, um, WON – ed) – although I am trying hard to beat this. Part my experience in the final was to work with Chef Massimo Bottura in Modena, Italy at the best restaurant in the world, Osteria Francescana.

Sum up your cooking style/ food philosophy?

Seasonal modern British, utilising two main ingredients in each dish. I use herbs rather than spice to make the ingredients sing.

Most memorable moment at work?

Seeing the managing director of Exclusive Hotels, Danny Pecorelli, washing up on Christmas Day. For me this is what being a great leader is all about.

Ever cooked for anyone famous?

Either England Rugby captain Chris Robshaw, or international DJ Norman Cook (Brighton’s very own Fatboy Slim). What was lovely about cooking for Norman is the first album I ever bought on CD was his – You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby.

Your biggest mistake at work?

It has to be burning a sauce while reducing. The time and labour involved in making the stock first, and then the sauce, is intensive. The final part is reducing the sauce to the right consistency and over reducing is probably one of the most heart-breaking things you can do as a chef.

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

My go to food at home is definitely pizza. I love it – no pineapple though!

What would you cook to impress a date?

As I am only allowed to date my wife at the moment, it would have to be her favourite dish of roasted pork chops, rosti potato & creamed cabbage.

Favourite chef?

Massimo Bottura – he has a huge amount of passion for what he does and his energy is infectious.

Favourite cookbook?

Beyond Essence by David Everitt-Matthias a chef cult classic – if you haven’t read it, get it. It’s timeless and inspirational.

Favourite type of cuisine?

Asian. I don’t eat it often and it’s always a treat, with loud flavours.

Favourite kitchen gadget?

Kitchen scales – my recipes are all written in grams to ensure consistency and perfection.

Favourite local café? Restaurant? Hotel?

Porteur Café is a couple of doors down from etch and a great addition to Hove’s Church Road. The local restaurant I can’t wait to go to when we are allowed is Wild Flor (great choice Steven, read the Muddy review here!). Hotel has to be South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding, after working there for 7 years it feels like home.

Your three favourite local markets and suppliers?

MCB Seafoods – Supermarket fish is rubbish and expensive, try the home delivery service to your door from this sustainable, family-owned Newhaven-based fish supplier.

Barfields Butchers – Will at Barfields really understands what we look for in our meat and working with small producers.

The Crabtree Pub, Lower Beeding – Great for essential beer, and since lockdown they have a great shop showcasing local small producers.

Favourite things to eat when you’re on holiday?

Anything unusual, I love seeing what people in other cultures eat. I don’t want to go abroad and eat anything I can eat at home.

What mistake do inexperienced cooks tend to make?

Impatience. When starting off a lot of chefs want to get to the top as quick as possible. Take your time and learn as much as you can. You never stop learning.

Favourite ingredient and why?

Globe artichokes. I love them because a) they are unusual ingredient b) they have a really unique flavour c) because its summer when they are on the menu d) the chefs hate prepping them and this makes me smile inside.

Most over-rated dish/ ingredient?

Sea urchin, maybe I haven’t had it the right way but I see it as an expensive, fiddly ingredient that isn’t worth the time, hassle or money. Also maybe because it brings back painful memories of stepping on one!

The dish you’re most proud of creating?

I’m going to dodge this question a little as the dish I’m most proud of was created by my Head Chef at etch.,George Boarer. He created a fig and blackberry tart and served it with fig leaf ice cream. The dish is completely his. It went on the menu without any changes and really epitomises etch. Not only that but George has worked with me from when he was a commis chef to see him grow and develop into the chef he is today is a really proud moment for me.

Tell us your best ever cooking tip?

Rest your meat after cooking – It makes such a difference. Lower your cooking time, cook your meat and rest while finishing the rest of the dish.

Three dishes every home cook should master?

Sunday roast – You can tell a lot about a person from the way they cook this meal.

Katsu Curry – It’s all about the sticky rice.

Poached eggs – I get so many questions about this all the time! Use fresh eggs, a little vinegar, 3 minutes.

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