We spoke with Ben Jupp, Head Chef at Cowdray Farm Shop & Cafe, to find out more about his ‘out of the garden and into the pan’ cooking style, culinary inspirations and what’s on the menu at Cowdray estate for a tasty festive treat. What inspired you to become a chef? Since an early age, I’ve always been fascinated by food. My mother was always cooking whilst I was growing up. She’s superb in the kitchen – it’s always inspired me. I do the same now with my daughter. What has been the proudest moment in your career? Becoming the Head Chef at Cowdray. It was quite a big job to take on – and there’s always lots of things happening throughout the whole estate. The Farm Shop acts as a hub, so it’s great to always be at the centre of the action. Tell us more about your culinary background… I trained for three years at college – which involved loads of work experience placements, I was always cooking at different venues and locations. When I finished, I moved to working at Goodwood estate. I worked there for four years and continued to progress up the ladder until I eventually became junior sous chef. After that, I joined Cowdray’s team as sous chef before taking over as Head Chef later down the line. I was so proud to achieve it. What’s your favourite dish on the menu at Cowdray? A lot of what we cook here comes straight from the estate around us. At the moment, we’ve got a venison ragu on the menu – a simple dish, but it’s top quality. The venison has come straight from the estate. You can’t get much better really. I like to keep the dishes as seasonal as possible. We have our own butchers and house garden too – so that’s aways handy. The shop is always packed with seasonal veg as well. We’ve recently had our Tasting Day here at Cowdray – it was a great opportunity to show off the vast range of produce on offer here. How would you describe your style of cooking? I’ve always loved the ‘out of the garden and into the pan’ philosophy. As soon as it arrives, it’s used almost straight away. I like dishes to be really fresh. What provides you with inspiration for the dishes on the menu? I walk into the shop and see inspiration all around. We’re lucky enough to have our own butchers and a fantastic deli, there’s so much to choose from. The shop and cafe work very closely with each other – it’s a great partnership. Do you have any role models? I really love Marcus Wareing. He uses his mum’s recipes and turns them into something spectacular. It’s a completely different style of cooking – and he makes it look so simple. What’s on the menu for Christmas? I try to steer away from the typical Christmas roast. We’re offering a simple salmon platter with capers, succulent ham hock with poached egg – and for a twist on the classic, a turkey open sandwich with a green salad and cranberry relish. We’re only open at lunch time, so it’s a great opportunity to provide people with an alternative to the usual heavy roast. What’s your favourite midnight snack? The bacon from Cowdray’s farm shop is really good – I’ve always got a stash at home. You can’t go wrong with a bacon sandwich! What food takes you back to childhood? For me, it’s got to be cottage pies, lasagnes and roast dinners. You can’t beat your mum’s cooking. Classics like fish and chips take me straight back to being young and hanging out with my friends. To find out more about Ben and Cowdray Farm Shop & Cafe click here. PLUS: To try two of Ben’s delicious dishes, click here.