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Somerset Life meets Michelin starred chef Chris Staines at the Allium Brasserie in Bath

PUBLISHED: 16:00 15 January 2013 | UPDATED: 22:37 20 February 2013

Chris Staines

Chris Staines

Chris Staines was tempted from London's Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where he has held a Michelin star for seven years to head up Bath's Allium Brasserie at The Best Western Bath Abbey Hotel which is gaining a reputation for its excellent food.

A philosophy of food

Head chef Chris Staines has spent 21 years in the kitchen - and has held a Michelin star for seven. Carol Burns finds out more

Chris Staines was tempted from Londons Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where he has held a Michelin star for seven years to head up Baths Allium Brasserie at The Best Western Bath Abbey Hotel which is gaining a reputation for its excellent food and relaxed dining style. His philosophy is to produce fresh, delicious simple food, sourcing the best possible ingredients and combining them with a very high level of skill in the kitchen, producing dishes of variety and style.

How would you describe your food style?
This is one of those questions which I always have difficulty answering. People love to pigeonhole restaurants, and chefs love to talk about their concept which, to me, sometimes makes it sound like they are going to be trying out their new and untested dishes on you!

The food I cook is based on sound classical technique, with a modern contemporary interpretation, never losing sight of the deliciousness factor.

Who has been your greatest food influence?

I would probably have to say my parents. In saying that, I have worked with many inspirational and talented chefs, all of whom have influenced me in some way. The seed was planted early on, growing up in Suffolk and growing and picking our own fruit and veg. Also in my early career when I was unable to drive, they ferried me back and forth at stupid times of the day, to get me to and from work in the kitchen at a local hotel.

How important is seasonality in your menu?
Seasonality is without question THE most important factor in writing a menu. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to try and use ingredients which are out of season, they are more expensive, harder to get hold of, and most importantly they dont always taste very nice!

What is your favourite flavour of Somerset?
Since moving here to Bath I have become quite a big fan of the wonderful ciders, which are produced across the region. They are plentiful and as varied as wine is from place to place, I am thoroughly enjoying working my way through them all one bottle at a time.

What ingredient couldnt you do without?
Salt: it has to be one of the most amazing ingredients ever discovered.

What was your most memorable meal?
My most memorable meal without question was at Alinea in Chicago. The most amazing flavours, incredibly innovative, fun, relaxed, delicious. After 32 courses we could have happily eaten the whole meal again.

Why did you become a chef?
Believe it or not because I LOVE food, and have always been interested in it.
I am very lucky that I actually get paid for doing something I genuinely love doing.

What is your food heaven?
A proper Sunday roast with plenty of roasties and a nice bottle of wine shared with friends and family.

What is your idea of food hell?
Baked beans!!! The only food I have refused to eat for more than 25 years.

Whats going to be big in 2013?
2013 will see more and more restaurants re-inventing themselves as casual, approachable venues serving excellent quality simple food. Provenance will become more and more traceable, and unfortunately due to the strange weather trends which I believe we will continue to see, food will become a lot more expensive. As a result of this people will look back to the recipes of the past looking for more economical cuts of meat and more traditional methods of cooking.


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