With more than 15 years of experience of working in award-winning restaurants, Nick Deverell-Smith is a chef who shows no signs of slowing down.
The Wordrobe caught up with Nick to chat more about his culinary career path and why opening The Churchill Arms in Paxford is “a dream come true.”
What inspired you to become a chef?
From a very young age cooking became natural to me, I found school hard so when I got home I would bake cakes, cookies and the evening family meal. My mum is an excellent cook and used to throw the most amazing dinner parties.
I was always in the thick of it trying to help. My uncle also was a chef in his own restaurant and I found the way he chopped the vegetables mesmerising.
Tell us more about your culinary background.
I left school at 15 and got a place at Birmingham College of Food on a catering course where I learnt the basics. I was entered into the competition “Junior Chef of the Year” where I came first!
Off the back of the competition I got a job at Simpsons restaurant in Birmingham working under Andreas Antona and Glynn Purnell which was a fantastic kitchen to learn in – it meant hard work and long hours but it was lots of fun.
I then went on to Mallory Court, while I was there I entered the Gordon Ramsey scholarship in 2006 and came runner up. This opened a lot of doors for me and I moved to London. I worked in kitchens alongside Gordon Ramsey, Marcus Wareing, Marco Pierre White and Eric Chavot before heading up the kitchens for Soho House Group.
What’s been your favourite career highlight so far?
That’s easy. Opening The Churchill Arms was a dream come true! This was my dream as a 16 year old boy.
I also appeared on Saturday kitchen Live and the Great British Menu in 2017, these are shows I grew up watching so it was a real honour to be asked to appear on them.
Talk us through the menu at The Churchill Arms – what’s on offer this spring?
I love this time of year, we have spring lamb, white and purple sprouting broccoli, rhubarb, wild garlic and beautiful tomatoes are beginning to come into season.
And as always we have our classics: smoked haddock soufflé; juicy Pork T-bone, with caramelised poached apple & crackling and Lobster macaroni & cheese to share.
What’s the biggest challenge of running your own restaurant?
The restaurant never stops! It’s seven days a week, 365 days a year and there is nowhere to hide. The biggest challenge is the pub itself, it’s a beautiful old building but she is very temperamental.
You’ve worked with some big names. Do you have any role models?
I have worked with some fantastic chefs. Eric Chavot was particularly insightful for me. He gave me the confidence to believe I could do what I am doing now. But my biggest role model is my older brother Paul, his approach to life was so inspiring.
What keeps you inspired?
I am just getting started! The journey ahead keeps me inspired. I always want to get better, the Cotswolds inspires me to cook fantastic dishes using the surrounding produce.
I am always driving around the local countryside looking at what’s around me and using that to inspire me of what to put on the menu next.
Describe your cooking ethos in three words.
Simple, flavoursome, local
What advice would you to offer to aspiring chefs?
This is a hard industry but amazing if you love what you do. Work for chefs who inspire you, learn the basics first and have a goal of where you want to get to, keep pushing yourself and have fun along the way.
Lastly… what’s your favourite midnight snack?
I love crumpets with lots of butter and bovril. Alongside a cup of English breakfast tea.
Try Nick’s cooking for yourself
The Churchill Arms
Paxford, Blockley, Chipping Campden GL55 6XH