It's Island life for me

Fri 09 Aug 2013 @ 14:22
Author Clare Knivett

Steve Boot is an ex-Fifteen graduate and now sous chef at Hell Bay hotel on the island of Bryher, one of Britain's beautiful Scilly isles. And the only 3 AA-rosette restaurant of all the islands. Steve is in his 3rd year of working in the kitchens, since he graduated from Jamie's Fifteen Cornwall. Whilst out foraging amongst the rock pools for something special for dinner, we talked to Steve about his journey.

Jamie Magazine: What’s your favourite food to cook?

Steve Boot: I love cooking fish – I just love how you can have a similar product taste so many different ways, whether sea bass comes into season or beautiful, big and meaty hake. Then you have monkfish... have you eaten a monk fish from over here? 'Steak of the sea' we call it. You get some of the tails and they’re huge, like a t-bone steak. And I love making seafood pastas and making fresh pasta with the eggs we have over here, it's awesome.

JM: What would you say is the main thing you learnt from Fifteen?

SB: Obviously cooking techniques, but the kitchen can be a highly stressful environment and I think they taught me to relax and not get myself wound up. Just be like ‘right, OK, keep going.. keep going.. keep going'. It's just as important to make sure that everyone sticks together and we get on, you know? There’s no point falling out with people over anything, you’ve just got to get through it.

JM: Did you enjoy the Fifteen apprenticeship straight off?

SB: Yeah I loved it – and then they sent me up to London [for work] and I was still enjoying it, but I was like, 'I need the coast'. So I think there’s something in me, that I need to be by the sea.

JM: How long have you been at Hell Bay Hotel?

SB: It's my 3rd year. I was in Shoreditch but had a contact from Fifteen Cornwall who told me about Hell Bay. So I finished work at midnight, traveled down from London, got straight on the flight and worked the day after. It was all a bit chaotic and mental, but I’m so glad I did it.

JM: What do you like about it here?

SB: It’s quiet! On my days off I can go out on my boat, have a barbecue with my friends… its just really peaceful. There’s a lot to like. Cheffing on the mainland compared to cheffing here is a completely different pail of fish. From the ordering to the deliveries… it’s a bit mental. And when Richard (head chef) got here we just kicked off really well and got on like a house on fire. We try to use as much local produce from the islands as we can; all the sorts of fish in Cornish waters and all the shellfish from the islands. We try to get out and use as much of what nature gives us as we can. It's as fresh as it comes!"

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