We get the dish on Shane Hughes, Head Chef of The Salutation with the “listening, learning, borrowing and adapting” cooking approach.
Have you always wanted to become a chef?
It was a toss-up between joining the military (my family have a history) or cooking – I’m glad I made the right choice!
How would you describe your cooking?
My cooking style is a mix of influences from the many great places I have worked over the years and the great chefs I have had the fortune of working with – listening, learning, borrowing and adapting. My style and technique has progressed with time, while still remaining true to my fairly classical roots. I’m always in favour of big, bold and punchy flavours.
Who are your role models?
The late Mrs Joan Reen, General Manager and owner of Ynyshir Hall in Wales, she was the most wonderful and patient person I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Also, Martin Burge, the former Head Chef of Michelin two-starred Whatley Manor, for simply being an all-round cooking legend.
Being part of both the Ynyshir Hall and Thackerays teams when they were awarded their first Michelin stars – there is no better feeling or reward for hard work and persistence.
Three favourite ingredients?
Butter, artichokes and lava bread (Welsh Caviar)
Your signature dish?
My Quail and foie gras pithivier. I’ve moved away from foie gras now and rarely serve it, but this painstaking dish is always very well received. Though getting it served correctly in a busy restaurant isn’t always easy – it takes 3 days to make it properly.
Any tips for aspiring chefs?
If you are set on becoming a chef, ignore the media nonsense and get your head down, nothing on television is going to prepare you for the long hours or physical toil.
Work in the highest quality restaurant or hotel that you can find and stay there until you feel you’ve really improved. Forget about monetary gain, that’ll come later if you’ve invested correctly in your training. Finally, ask lots of questions (and remember the answers) – if you don’t get the answers then you’re working for the wrong chef.
Soundtrack in the kitchen?
Anything by Jamie T, Lynyrd Skynyrd or Elvis.
Favourite restaurant (other than your own)?
I don’t get out as much as I’d like, but my last great meal was at Gareth Ward at Ynyshir Restaurant with Rooms – it is inspiringly good.
I plan to play my part in developing the Salutation into a commercially successful award-winning restaurant… and then perhaps a holiday.
Enjoy a taste of Shane’s cooking at The Salutation, Knightrider St, Sandwich CT13 9EW