Great British Chefs: William Drabble

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As part of our Cooking with Kids series we continue to look at the childhood dishes that influenced Great British Chefs’ award winning chefs. We see whether those influences appear in any of the dishes they serve today.

William Drabble started his career as an unpaid kitchen worker at 14. Now he’s Executive Chef at Michelin-starred Seven Park Place at St James’s Hotel, which is recognised as one of the most exciting restaurants in the London dining scene.

We asked William about cooking as a child and whose food he most remembered.

“It was my grandmother who had the biggest influence on me learning to cook as a child. She used to work in the kitchens of the Earl Fitzwilliam at Wentworth, not far from where she was born in Sheffield. The manner in which she would describe it all to me was just so intriguing.”

“My grandmother’s roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding was out of this world. I have memories of us also doing a lot of baking together, whether it was a delicious fruit cake or some of her best light & fluffy scones. During the autumn, we would go for long walks in the woods to pick chestnuts and toast them on the fire. I can still smell that wonderful aroma of roasted chestnuts now – just fantastic.”

William was lucky to live very close to farmland and had a clear sense of where food came from.  This knowledge went on to strongly influence what he cooks today.

“It was the surroundings I grew up in that really influenced my style of cooking. Having grown up surrounded by farms I really believe it is important to support British farmers and food suppliers. Each dish starts on a farm or in the sea, it then takes those farmers and fishermen, to get up at the crack of dawn (mostly it is dark and rainy) to harvest that produce, which is then prepared for delivery, packaged, taken on a journey and delivered to the restaurant where the ingredients are then painstakingly prepared, cooked and presented by a trained team of professionals both in the kitchen and the restaurant. That is how a dish gets to you”. 

We asked William if he had any tips on getting kids to try different food types or dishes that are new to them?

“The key is to involve children where possible while you are cooking, especially when preparing ingredients which can so often be a very timely process, so that it becomes a fun activity. From personal experience, if you are able to stimulate children’s interest towards food and involve them in cooking, they will mostly likely try everything you give them to eat.”

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