We delve into the life and inner thoughts of a top chef. This week: Chris Hawkins, culinary director of Camm & Hooper
What was your best subject at school?
PE. I didn't like having my head stuck in academic books
What was your first job?
Helping with paper rounds, starting at 5am before school every day
What was your first job in catering?
A restaurant called Mezzo in London, three days a week as part of level 1 and 2 food apprenticeship. Eight hundred covers was pretty standard
What do you normally have for breakfast?
I'm more of a brunch person – a bagel, poached eggs and crispy bacon
What do you do to relax?
Eating out at other restaurants is important to me, not least because the industry is struggling after Covid. Does spending time with my children also count as relaxation?
What's your favourite hotel?
Atlantis in Dubai. You can eat round the clock and there is a water park next door
What is your favourite drink?
In the summer I struggle to beat a mojito in the sun, or a freezing cold craft beer
What is your favourite food/cuisine?
My favourite food is bellota, it's pork where the pig is only fed on acorns – it's amazing. My favourite cuisine has to be the good old English classics
What flavour combinations do you detest?
Mixing cuisines can go horribly wrong. Noodles and meatballs, for example – when was that ever a good idea?
Which person in catering have you most admired?
I learned a lot from Sydney Aldridge. Calm, not erratic, doesn't shout – this is how you should manage situations. Daniel Clifford was also an eye opener on how to cater for large events
Which person gave you the greatest inspiration?
My nan. We are a big family and she would make huge batches of food – dozens of beef pies and lemon tarts. She was my inspiration. Mum, unfortunately, boiled broccoli to death
If you had not gone into catering, where do you think you would be now?
My childhood dream was to be a footballer. I played football for Charlton Athletic when I was growing up, but the fun was taken out of it because the training was so intense