Celebrity Chefs – in conversation with Laurence Henry

Local chef and winner of BBC MasterChef: The Professionals Laurence Henry makes his Festival of Food and Drink debut this weekend.

Living in Nottingham and having worked for the Michelin starred Restaurant Sat Bains as Sous Chef, Laurence Henry is no stranger to the area. He appears at the Festival of Food and Drink at Clumber Park on Saturday 15th September.

Ahead of his debut and a return to Sat Bains, we found out how life has changed for Laurence since being in the MasterChef kitchen, his food favourites, and what’s next for his cooking career…

When did you first become interested in food and cooking?
I’ve been interested in food from a very young age. My family are massive foodies so we always ate well. I started cooking dinner with my mum as a small child and baking cakes with my grandmother.

Do you have a signature recipe – that go-to dish? If so, what is it?
Not really, my favourite thing to do is take all the random bits knocking around in my fridge and turn it into a delicious meal.

What’s your favourite thing to cook?
I love cooking fish, as it requires a lot more skill to perfect. But you can’t beat vegetables straight from the garden and onto a plate.

Is there a type of cooking or an ingredient you’d love to learn more about or how to use more? If so, what?
There is so much I want to learn about, I’m currently expanding my knowledge of Japanese ingredients and cooking techniques

Can you name one ingredient you love cooking with, and one that you hate?
I love cooking with butter, I think it’s a chef thing when you have perfectly foaming butter basting something in a pan. I find it mesmerising. I hate cooking kidneys, never been a fan of the taste or smell.

Starter or dessert?
Starter every time, I’m not a massive pudding person, I’d always rather make it than eat it.

How has your life and cooking changed since winning MasterChef: The Professionals?
Since winning MasterChef my life has changed quite a lot! I’m constantly busy, have been offered a lot of really cool opportunities and my restaurant dream doesn’t seem as far away as it once did.

What’s next for you in your cookery career?
I think my next step will definitely be my own restaurant if everything continues to fall into place.

Who has been the biggest influence on your cooking?
I’ve been influenced by all chefs in my career so far, taking bits from everyone I’ve worked for. But without a doubt working with Sat Bains and John Freeman has had the biggest impact on me as a chef.

Favourite restaurant – both locally and beyond?
Couldn’t choose! I try to eat somewhere different as much as possible to try new dishes & flavours. But my go to Nottingham restaurants are Pizzeria Savai, which we’ve gone to since I was a little boy, and The Viceroy for a curry with my grandad.

Name a simple foodie pleasure.
Beans on toast, hands down my guilty foodie pleasure. With cheese 😍

If you could cook a three-course meal for four guests of your choosing (past of present) – what are you cooking and who’s coming to dinner?
I’d be cooking a proper Sunday roast, nothing fancy, just a real traditional meal cooked perfectly. No fancy guests, it’d be my girlfriend Sera and my family always.

Don’t miss Laurence Henry’s demonstrations in the Cookery Theatre. Book your tickets today to this year’s Festival of Food and Drink – click here