Episode 19 William Curley
Searcys, Harrods, Claridges +

When it comes to chocolatier-patissiers, William Curley is a world-class player. He’s one of only 7 chefs in the UK to have achieved ‘Master of Culinary Arts’.  The chance to earn this accolade – which is the culinary equivalent of a Nobel Prize – only comes round every 4 years…and it took William three attempts.  Gruelling, as you’ll hear…

Perhaps it’s not surprising that William has done so brilliantly. As well as having natural talent, he’s fostered that talent by working with the best, from the moment he became an apprentice at Gleneagles, followed by stints with acclaimed chefs such as Pierre  Koffmann, Anton Edelmann, Raymond Blanc and Marco Pierre White.

You might think that working with big personalities and big brands (Harrods, Claridges, The Savoy …I could go on) would have gone to his head.  Not a bit of it.  As you’ll hear, William is delightful, down-to-earth and humbled by the fact he was able to crowd-fund his latest venture: his own shop in the heart of Soho. This means he can continue to be hands-on, creating amazing chocolates and chocolate patisserie.  Be warned, your mouth will water during the course of this conversation…  Enjoy.

 

Episode 18 Simon Robinson
Hattingley Sparkling Wine

British wine use to have a reputation, but not one we wanted. Now it’s taking on the French at their own game with some of the best sparkling in the world. As chair of Wine GB Simon is the perfect guest to chat to to find out why and how.

If you’d said to Simon Robinson in 2008 that his Hattingley Valley vineyards would have the capacity – in a really good year – to produce 580,000 bottles of wine…or that his sparkling rose would be crowned a world champion, he would have said you were crackers.

And yet, in just over a decade, Hattingley  and other GB newcomers have done brilliantly in what is a very old industry…even though in the early days our efforts were written off as being poor copies of German varieties like Riesling and  Muller-Thergau.   

In this conversation you’ll discover why our sparkling wines are now doing so well and why Simon calls his sector ‘agriculture on steroids’:  it will make your eyes water when you do and you’ll wonder why on earth he gave up his partner position at a city law firm to go on such a rollercoaster…

Episode 17 Michael Stoates
Stoate and Sons traditional miller

Michael Stoate is a fifth generation miller in Dorset, whose family have been producing stoneground flour since 1832.  That means he knows a lot about flour.  It was the era when sailing ketches would carry the flour across the Severn to Swansea and return with coal for the mills. As a teenager he thought he’d be an engineer but he had so much fun getting his hands dirty in the holidays he couldn’t help but join the family business.
 

In this conversation you’ll learn about the wonder of wheat germ – the embryo of life, which gives bread its gorgeous flavour – and what really happens to it in modern mechanised milling… That might help you work out how bread now can last for days, but when you were a kid, or in France, it lasted just a few hours.
 
And you’ll see how Michael has adapted to the ever-changing bread scene: from the lows of the late 80s and 90s, when his whole-food shop market disappeared to brighter times, with our growing interest in continental breads, artisanal baking and sourdough.
 
I learnt a lot, and I hope you do too.  Enjoy x

Episode 16 Karen Richards
Capreolus Charcuterie

When David Richards was made redundant from his sales director role, finding a new one at 50 was very hard. Luckily, he had always loved cooking and smoking cuts of meat in the garden, so when his wife Karen suggested that there might be a business in curing, they gave it a shot.

10 years later their company, Capreolus, has won countless awards for its ever-increasing range of mouth-watering charcuterie and smoked foods, from pancetta and air-dried pork loin to the magnificently named Rampisham Tingler Salami.

In this edition you’ll discover why it’s so important to get the right sort of business funding – if you can; why the fat of rare breed animals is the star of good charcuterie… and what it’s like dealing with restaurant food crazes, where smoked venison might suddenly replace air-dried beef, and you realise, with a sinking heart, that you have no venison on the premises and a six month lead time…

Episode 15 Nick Leach
Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality

In terms of career variety, I doubt if many  can match Nick Leach’s 4 decades in hospitality. One of his first jobs was working as the King of Saudi Arabia’s personal chef on a £9 million motor yacht. After that he found himself ‘catering to excess’, for merchant bankers in London, where £25,000 a week was set aside for caviar alone – served in huge swan ice carvings.

This was in stark contrast to his next role as General Manager at Kings College Hospital, where his daily budget per patient was £1.76 – and that had to cover 7 hot drinks a day, in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner.

For the last 18 years he’s been drawing on this wealth experience to manage the catering at the University of Portsmouth.  In any one week he has a potential 29,000 hungry students and staff to feed…and he still makes time to take his chefs to see local food producers – from the organic dairy and flour mill to the free-range chicken farm.

Amazing man, amazing stories.  Enjoy!