We delve into the life and inner thoughts of a top chef. This week: Nathan Cornwell, head chef, the Silver Birch, Chiswick
What was your best subject at school?
Food technology, because I loved being creative and making myself extra food for the day at school
What was your first job?
A paper round
What was your first job in catering?
I was a kitchen hand in a local restaurant while I was still at school. I knew at that point I wanted to be a chef
What do you normally have for breakfast?
I usually skip breakfast and have coffee, but if I'm peckish it has to be the M&S all day breakfast sandwich – don't mock it till you try it
What do you do to relax?
I like to dine out with my partner, and I also love to go fishing
Which is your favourite restaurant?
In London it has to be Phil Howard's Elystan Street, Perilla in Newington Green or Trinty in Clapham – all completely delicious
What's your favourite hotel?
Lucknam Park near Bath, where I had one of my first jobs
What is your favourite drink?
After a hot service nothing hits like a cold beer, and a Bloody Mary to start my days off always goes down a treat
Which ingredient do you hate the most?
I really don't like the texture and the flavour of natto. I tried it once and never again
Which person in catering have you most admired?
Hywel Jones from Lucknam Park, as he gave me a such a great start to my career
Which person gave you the greatest inspiration?
That would have to be David Everitt-Matthias from Le Champignon. He's incredible in terms of technique and flavours combinations and how to run a fantastic family business
Tell us a secret...
I can't go a week without a fish and chip dinner
What irritates you most about the industry?
Chefs creating food you could clearly make easily at home
What's your favourite book?
Larousse Gastronomique, which I read as a boy – I loved the old recipes
What is your favourite prepared product?
I love crispy chilli flakes on literally anything