Humble beginnings lead to great taste

Andy Waters

GBClogo recipeHere’s the first in our regular look at how the award winning chefs from Great British Chefs cook with their own children and the food that influenced the chefs when they were growing up.

Although we may think that top chefs were cooking since they could walk and talk, Andy Waters had a humble working class background and never dreamed he would be running an award winning restaurant.

Now head chef of The Queens at Belbroughton, a 16th century pub in Worcestershire, Andy has recently been awarded the prestigious Robert J Smith Award by the British Culinary Federation for his professionalism and dedication to the hospitality industry.  However, he comes from a family of six who grew up on a council estate. His busy mum was a confectioner and he remembers how she made beautifully scented vases of flowers from sugar. 

Yet it was family dishes like fish soups and Chicken Kiev that he really looked forward to. His family also had some classic cook books by great chefs like Robert Carrier. “I remember my mum making some delicious stews and casseroles with rough cuts of meat.” 

Fortunately being in a house that was often full of sugary delights didn’t give Andy a great sweet tooth. “I never really took much notice of my mum’s cakes and to be honest becoming a chef when you grew up wasn’t inspiring back then. When I give talks at school assemblies now, everything has changed and children have a much greater interest in foods from around the world.  I love their curiosity too and how they get excited when I show them that pancakes don’t just have to have sweet fillings.” 

Andy now has a 10 year old daughter and 6 year old son who spend a lot of time in his restaurant kitchen watching him cook. “They love growing herbs and both go to an eco-school where they learn about foraging and often explore the countryside for ingredients”.  

Andy’s busy kitchen means his children naturally see and taste lots of different foods.  When asked about how to get fussy children to eat: “The secret is to make your dishes look appealing and not spend too much time explaining to very young children what’s in each dish, as they may pick out what they don’t like. If they are part of making the dish, even if that’s just stirring or weighing ingredients, they’re much more likely eat all sorts of food.  Vegetable lasagne is an easy way to introduce healthy green vegetables like kale into children’s diets”.

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