Next in our series of chef interviews is Chef Clive, from our best-selling cooking vacation in Spain. Hear Clive in his own words as he talks about his cooking background, his love for food, and his passion for teaching Spanish cuisine to our travelers.
When did you first start cooking? What’s your first cooking memory?
At the age of 14. Making Welsh Cowl Soup (Lamb, Leek and Potato Soup) on scout camp in the Welsh mountains.
Where (and from whom) did you learn about cooking?
Definitely not from my mother (without being offensive) who was such a bad cook that I had to learn to cook to feed myself an edible meal. My first real lesson in cooking came in the late 80s under my mentor, master Chef Raymond from Provence, France, in his former French restaurant Cordon Bleu in the city of Cardiff where I was born and bred. I was his apprentice while I attended a catering college. He told me he would teach me everything he had learnt in Cordon Bleu school in Marseille and he did more than that for me.
What’s your favorite ingredient or food to cook with? Favorite dish to make?
Being Welsh, I have to say my favorite ingredient has to be Welsh lamb because it is just so flavorsome. Living in Spain, my favorite dish to cook is Cordero al Chilindrón, lamb braised with sweet red peppers. I also love cooking fish in Spain as we have such a variety of fresh fish and shellfish available.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone just starting to cook?
Relax, lay out all your ingredients in front of you, and take your time. Do not try to prepare as you cook. Get organized in advance.
What do you hope people gain from your cooking programs/classes?
My hope is that our guests/participants go home with the confidence that they can recreate the dishes that they have learnt to cook for their family and friends. For me it is very important that what they have cooked with me are not once in a life time dishes but they are to be repeated, shared and enjoyed for years to come.
Anything else you’d like to share with clients of The International Kitchen? Are there any other questions you’d like to answer?
Spanish cuisine is not about how to make a dish in a most complicated method or to serve with a complicated sauce. It is about the fresh and seasonal ingredients and the simple method of cooking to retain and enhance the original flavor and aroma of the ingredients. Spanish cuisine is still very underestimated and undervalued compared to Italian or French, so I feel so lucky to be able to do what I love doing as my job and I feel very motivated to promote Spanish cuisine in this way to people who are not yet familiar with what it is all about. My years of experience in the restaurant business certainly taught me a lot of things but I get more enjoyment out of sharing my skills and knowledge with people who genuinely love cooking and eating.
By Peg Kern
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