“It’s not always roses but being able to cook from the heart and have people enjoy what I put on the plate for them is both rewarding and tremendously humbling.”
The Wordrobe chats classical cooking and attitude with Dom Robinson, Chef Patron of The Blackbird in Berkshire
What inspired you to become a chef?
I was always fascinated by cooking and food and my careers advisor suggested that I should go to college to study catering. A few weeks into it I was in the college library and picked up White Heat by Marco.
I can still remember being amazed by the visual beauty of his food and his rock star persona. That book absolutely changed my life. I still get goosebumps when I read it.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
It’s not always roses but being able to cook from the heart and have people enjoy what I put on the plate for them is both rewarding and tremendously humbling.
Tell us more about The Black Bird. What was the inspiration behind it?
The Blackbird is a restaurant and public house where our guests can enjoy properly cooked, classic dishes with great wines or simply a pint on the way home from work
I became very disenchanted with modern cuisine and genuinely worried that the recipes that I learned when I was training would be lost, so I set out to give classic cuisine a renaissance in a relaxed and friendly environment with cool tunes.
What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs?
Focus less on the money and hours and more on what you are going to learn…oh and forget about the denim apron with tweezer pocket, you will look like an idiot.
Describe your cooking style in three words.
Classical, robust, refined.
What’s your favourite spring ingredient and what do you like cooking most with it?
St. George’s mushrooms, cooked in a butter emulsion with asparagus. It doesn’t get better than that.
Do you have any culinary heroes
Of the chefs I’ve worked for, Adam Byatt, Tom Aikens and my first boss Max Fischer have all had a massive influence on me and I’m hugely proud to have worked under them.
Marco, because he inspired me to take this career path and finally Gordon Ramsay – people try to have a pop at his media persona but the guy earned 3 stars and a built a global restaurant empire purely through hard work. Enough said.
What’s been your ultimate career highlight so far?
Opening my own restaurant but it’s also been the hardest. I’m not afraid to admit I’ve been close to breaking several times, particularly at the beginning.
What’s your ultimate midnight snack?
When I was working in France I used to go to the local bar after work and have a croque monsieur with a pint of Kronenbourg overlooking the yachts in the harbour. Heavenly.
What’s next on the cards?
Extend the kitchen and expand the brigade to push for the accolades I’ve dreamed of my entire working life.
Try Dom’s dishes for yourself
A34, Bagnor, Newbury RG20 8AQ