The Wordrobe gets the dish on Phil Fanning, owner and Executive Chef of the prestigious Paris House in Bedfordshire
What inspired you to become a chef?
As a kid I watched Gary Rhodes and Ken Hom on the telly and found them fascinating, their passion and enthusiasm for their craft was infectious.
I used to cook at home a lot as a past time which eventually led to me entering the Junior Master Chef competition, which was a great, eye opening experience.
Once I realised I was pretty good at cooking (and I could get paid to do it!) it became the obvious career path.
Where did you train? Tell us more about your culinary background…
I trained at Henley on Thames College and was lucky enough to have an inspirational Lecturer, Mr Conahan, a retired chef who had spent his life working in great kitchens across Europe.
He quickly instilled in me that being a chef was a highly respectable career option and one that required dedication and commitment. After leaving college I worked with two chefs that continued to mentor me.
Firstly Mike MacDonald, who had spent years working with Pierre Coffman and had quite a traditional French background.
Mike drilled us in discipline, loyalty and a positive work ethic. Working with Mike provided me with a solid background in high quality fresh produce and the skills required to get the best out of them.
The next influential figure in my career was Alan Murchison who had been a key figure in Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir and before that John Burton Race’s L’Ortolan.
Alan’s kitchens were energetic and creative environments where you were constantly learning and being challenged to be better.
What’s your favourite winter dish?
Roast venison… with anything!
What can guests expect from a meal at Paris House?
Modern British Tasting menus with some Asian twists and warm, friendly service.
I have a love of Japanese and Asian food so a lot of our dishes have Asian elements woven through them, but wherever possible we use local or British produce.
Do you have any role models?
I have always admired Thomas Keller. His approach with suppliers and dedication to his craft have been a constant inspiration.
What does hospitality mean to you?
The art of creating comfort and satisfaction and lasting relationships.
Name three of your top restaurants.
Lasarte in Barcelona was incredible, The Fat Duck in Bray for its mind-bending creativity and Umu in Mayfair for its amazing Japanese Kaiseki menus.
What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs?
Find a good mentor and be loyal. Work hard but don’t forget to look after yourself and have fun!
What’s your favourite midnight snack?
Seeded Ryvita crackers, cheddar and loads of pickle.
Try Phil’s dishes for yourself at Paris House
Woburn Park, Woburn, Bedford MK17 9QP