What first ignited your fascination with food?
I grew up in a costal town in New England so I would always see people going off fishing and returning with a fresh haul of seafood right on the quayside. We also had quite a lot of farms in the neighbourhood and I think you naturally get a different view of food when you see it being produced rather than just served up on a plate. Beyond that, I was lucky enough to travel a lot as a kid and everywhere we went, food was a way of discovering what a new place tasted like.
Where do you get inspiration for the flavour of your sauces?
A great deal of my inspiration comes from travelling and always having an open mind. I’m very eager to learn and I’m always searching for different experiences, from exploring raw ingredients to seeing what chefs are doing in restaurants. It’s essentially about keeping your eyes and your mouth open! I never lose the excitement of discovering new ways of doing things.
In three words, what should every great dish have?
Flavour, excitement and satisfaction.
If you could only use three ingredients, what would they be?
It’s hard to choose so few, but for me the three magic ingredients are tomatoes, olive oil and herbs. I couldn’t just pick one herb though; basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary… they are all essential.
What’s your favourite cuisine and why?
Whatever I’m eating at that moment! It's incredibly important not to have any preconceptions of food, especially when you’re travelling. I always explore new places by wanting to eat what the local people eat because it’s the best way to get the most direct experience of somebody else’s culture. There are so many different cuisines to discover and I always look forward to my next experience.
Aside from cooking, what other passions do you have?
History, art, fishing, scuba diving, playing guitar… I could go on!
What is the key ingredient to making a difference?
The key ingredient to whatever you’re doing, whether it’s cooking or charity work, is enthusiasm. It’s hard to decide whether enthusiasm is a quality, an emotion or an attribute, but it isn’t something you can learn, it has to come from within. Enthusiasm means you really care about what you’re doing and you put all your energy into it.
Second to food, what’s your specialist subject?
Eighteenth-century British art and architecture.
What is your proudest achievement?
My two daughters! I do a great deal of work for cultural and educational charities which I am also very proud of. To see projects that I’m passionate about progress and succeed is hugely satisfying and even more so when these charities are inspiring others. It is a never-ending role that is really rewarding.