I think I was around 12 or 13 when I first started cooking, as I didn’t like the way my mother used to cook (sorry mum).
Do you have a favourite spice, something that features regularly in your food?
That’s a very tough question but, being Jewish, middle eastern spices are close to my heart and orange blossom and za’atar are up there as my favourites.
If you just have half an hour, what would you cook?
In half an hour I would probably cook linguini arrabiata.
Lewis Sully - Duck & Waffle, London
What age did you become interested in food? Who inspired you to become a chef?
17. It all originated from my love for nature and being creative, I dropped out of horticultural college to change to an art course, then whilst waiting for the next term to start a friend got me a few shifts kitchen portering at banquets in the city. I then got a job with Daniel Doherty and I saw from his example the conviction to creativity and food that he had in a restaurant setting. He and the other chefs would pass me samples to try; I remember having my first proper handmade scotch egg telling him it was the best I'd ever eaten, chicken livers in madeira cream sauce is another persistent memory. He helped me to realise that the combination of food (being the fruits of nature after all) and the chance to be creative made the industry appealing to me. My family since have reminded me that they didn't give me nicknames like "the dustbin" or "the bottomless pit" for no reason; I've always loved eating!
How do you balance using the best ingredients for your dish and using locally sourced ingredients?
I like to think the two come together; it's about proximity. Seasonality is the common understanding among chefs today regarding this. They've known for hundreds of years that the meat of an animal would taste good with a particular plant or fruit, which that animal would graze on; be it a chicken pecking at corn, or a pig scoffing russet apples in an orchard. It's about encapsulating the flavour of a specific time and place, the vast majority of ingredients in the dish I have chosen to cook, would be found in a saltmarsh in springtime.
Who would be invited to your ideal dinner, dead or alive – you’re allowed six people?
Dan Doherty - He deserves anything I can offer to him.
My girlfriend Stevie - She's a pastry chef and would never forgive me if I didn't invite her.
Rick Stein - I've had a lifelong love for fishing and I love fish and seafood, I have some of his books and his programmes are really well presented, he gives a true impression of food culture and history.
John Wright - Author of many of the River Cottage book series, top foraging, brewing and mushroom expert.
Richard Mabey - Author of Food for Free, the forager's bible.
Rene Redzepi - Although I'd be more than nervous to cook for a chef of such calibre, his concept at Noma really speaks to me.
Jonathan Hawthorne – Quay, Sydney
What food inspires you the most?
I would say new concepts of food, new flavours, foods that aren't easily accessible – are unique.
Who do you find inspiring within the hospitality industry and why?
Simon and Rena Gueller, owners of the Boxtree restaurant, they gave me my first sous chef position. Simon is an amazing mentor and always wants to help talented young chefs. Peter Gilmore from Quay is just a special chef to work for he is always teaching and showing new techniques.
What is your favourite cooking utensil?
I would say my hands; they are good for all sorts of things, in and out of the kitchen ;)
Dani Molero – Pizarro, London
What age did you become interested in food?
I grew up in a restaurant, my father had a restaurant in Barcelona. I can't remember when I start to work in a kitchen but I just remember I start as a KP and didn't like it.
Who inspired you to become a chef?
My father was my inspiration and one day I'll be so proud to have a restaurant with him.
What is your favourite spice/ingredient and why?
Spanish saffron is my favourite spice because you can use it for a dessert, or a cocktail... and a rice, in my opinion, is the most polyvalent ingredient.
If you only have half an hour, what would you cook?
If I'm alone I prefer to eat a packet of cookies. To cook, I need someone for cooking and time is not a handicap; cooking you can do whatever with half and hour.