Meet the chef: Steve Drake at Sorrel

Steve Drake tells us all about his life as a chef

Sorrel was the AA Restaurant of the Year for England in 2018 and in September 2019 acheived 4-Rosette status. We spoke to head chef Steve Drake about what has fuelled his creative and contemporary approach.

What inspired you to become a chef?

SD: Being a chef involves many skills and I love the constant learning and development of dishes, ingredients and how we operate. When I was a kid we didn’t eat well at home, so when I went to work in a local restaurant I was suddenly exposed to many new things I hadn’t tried before. I was hooked.

What are the vital ingredients for a successful kitchen?

SD: Team work is vital to operate the kitchen but working together creatively as a team is just as important. Whether it’s collaborating on new dishes or an element of service, everyone needs to contribute even in a small way. We don't exclude anyone.

What are your favourite foods/ingredients?

SD: I don’t have a favourite ingredient but I love cooking with vegetables. I try not to follow the latest trends that come and go and prefer to stick to what I feel works best for the dish.

What's your favourite dish on the current menu and why?

SD: I love them all but I’m particularly excited by our Quail with Cep Aioli, Soy Caramel, Charcoal and Sweetcorn - some strong flavours bouncing off each other.

Who are the chefs you admire most? Who has had the most influence on your cooking style?

SD: I am lucky enough to have been around a while and I admire many chefs who push their creativity. Nico Ladenis was my first mentor as well as the Roux Scholarship family who have played a huge part in shaping my career and cooking. I admire any chef who does their own thing.

What are the best places you've eaten in recently?

The Ledbury and Lyle's are among my favourite places to eat – brilliant cooking and ingredients.

An edited version of this interview first appeared in the AA Restaurant Guide 2020.

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