We delve into the life and inner thoughts of a top chef. This week: Aiden Blakely-May, head chef, Rastella, Merchants Manor
What was your best subject at school?
PE – probably why I love the fast pace of a kitchen
What was your first job?
Kitchen porter. The best place to start in my opinion
What was your first job in catering?
Collecting glasses in my parents' pub at the grand old age of 10
What do you do to relax?
You'll often find me and the girlfriend on one of Cornwall's picturesque beaches
Which is your favourite restaurant?
Ynyshir in Machynlleth. They focus on what I believe is the number one reason people come for dinner: flavour
What's your favourite hotel?
The Newt in Somerset. I love how much they produce on-site. Their kitchen garden is a sight to behold
What is your favourite drink?
A cold pint of Skinner's Porthleven
Are there any foods that you refuse to cook with?
Herbs that haven't been grown in the UK. We get the most amazing herbs from our farmers, packed full of fragrance and flavour
What flavour combinations do you detest?
Goat's cheese and beetroot. Goat's cheese just freaks me out
What do you always carry with you?
My knife roll
Cast away on a desert island, what luxury would you take?
My knives. I am a bit of knife geek and can't resist the latest knives. I have a TOG knife engraved with Rastella on the side from when we won our first three rosettes
Describe your ultimate nightmare?
A vegan that hasn't prebooked. It's not that we don't like cooking for them, it's that we want them to have a great experience too, so creating something memorable on the spot can be a challenge
Tell us a secret...
I have complete control over every toe
What irritates you most about the industry?
Young chefs or novices completely ignoring the kitchen hierarchy and brigade system. I'm a big believer in working your way up step by step, not thinking you can come out of college and bag a head chef gig
What is your favourite prepared product?
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