We catch up with Iain Miller, Head Chef at Woodside in Warwickshire.
Iain began his career at Woodside in 1992 as a young catering assistant. Twenty years later, he returned, bringing a wealth of experience and accolades with him. Iain has also just won the 2015 UK Copper Skillet Competition run by IACC.
Who and what inspired you to become a chef?
My uncle was a chef and his lifestyle always intrigued me. As I reached my teens, I started preparing the Sunday dinner for my dad ready for when he got home from golf. My experimenting with ingredients escalated from there.
What chef would you most like to work for?
This is very difficult as there seems to more and more talented chefs being recognised, but I think it would have to be Paul Bocuse.
What job would you have done if you hadn’t been a chef?
Had I not been a chef, I'd have liked to have been a Fireman.
What inspires your cooking and creativity?
Eating is the main inspiration for cooking. You can’t serve something to a customer if you’ve not tried it yourself to ensure it works. Having satisfied guests in your restaurant also inspires creativity, especially the challenge to wow them with something a little different.
What is your signature dish?
I've never had a personal signature dish. Ingredients, seasons and food trends determine how I write our menus, but a dish that features on my menus regularly, and one I love to cook is - slow cooked blade of beef “bourguignon” with colcannon potatoes.
What are your favourite ingredients?
Beef is definitely one of my favourite ingredients. I also love the sweet juiciness of a fresh hand dived scallop. A kitchen would also be lost without onions and garlic. In fact, the more I think about this question the harder it gets!
What has been your biggest professional achievement to date?
I achieved a Bib Gourmand from Michelin at Simply Simpsons in Kenilworth 2005 but more recently my UK Copper Skillet champion titles in both 2013 and 2015.
What is your idea of the perfect last meal? And where would you go to get it?
It would have to be a big fat medium rare sirloin steak with beef dripping chips and salad. Gaucho Restaurants serve the best Argentinian beef.
What is the best thing about your job?
For me, it’s the satisfaction of seeing empty plates return back to the kitchen and knowing that guests will leave with a smile on their faces thanks to me and my team. Passing on my knowledge and experience to young enthusiastic chefs is also extremely rewarding.
What are your words of wisdom for an aspiring chef?
Commitment, dedication and organisation are all key to achieving your goals.