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A minute on the clock

Daniel Clifford, 31, is head chef at Midsummer House in Cambridge, which last week was awarded a second Michelin star. Caterer spoke to him in the aftermath of the celebrations

Caterer: How are you feeling this week?
Daniel Clifford: Tired. Getting a second star has made life very hectic. It’s changed business levels dramatically, and the phone just hasn’t stopped.

C: But do you feel happy about it?
DC: I’m feeling the best I’ve ever felt. It’s an achievement for everyone. We’ve got a great team and we’re over the moon.

C: How did you celebrate?
DC: We closed for the night. Then we started off the evening at the pub next door. We went to about 10 different places and finished off at the local nightclub. Actually we finished off at the burger van outside the local nightclub.

C: How did you feel the next morning?
DC: I felt seriously ill the next morning.

C: Was it worth it?
DC: Definitely. Worth all the hard work, energy and stress.

C: Why are Michelin stars so important to restaurants?
DC: It’s probably Europe’s most used guide, so it attracts not just customers from England but from all over the Continent.

C: Do you feel under extra pressure now you’ve a second star?
DC: No, because we weren’t working towards it in the first place. We were just doing what we do. It’s eased the pressure really, because it helps to get staff, and customers understand what we’re trying to achieve better.

C: What’s your favourite thing to cook at home?
DC: At the moment, ham and pea risotto, because that’s usually what my wife’s got in the fridge. I’ve got three very small children, and trying to please them and my wife is very hard.

C: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever eaten?
DC: About four years ago my previous restaurant manager cooked the staff dinner, and we all got food poisoning. We’ve only got two loos here, and there were queues outside. We had to close the restaurant the next day.

C: Will you be aiming for three stars next year?
DC: I don’t think you aim for three stars, and I’m very happy with what we’ve already achieved. I want the restaurant to be full every day and the staff to be happy – that would be enough.

C: What are your plans for 2005?
DC: I want to go out and eat more this year, and I want to get to the French Laundry. I’d also like to see more of my kids and have them eat at the restaurant more often. At the moment they’re not really at a stage where they understand things like oxtail and liver – they like spaghetti.

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