Revelations: Nathan Cornwell, head chef, the Silver Birch, Chiswick

05 December 2023
Revelations: Nathan Cornwell, head chef, the Silver Birch, Chiswick

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

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