Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Interview with Michelin Starred Chef, Mark Sargeant

Mark Sargeant, former head chef of Gordon Ramsey’s Michelin starred restaurant at Claridges and owner of seafood restaurant, Rocksalt in Kent, brings his unique take on modern British cuisine to Royal Ascot.

Collaborating with Executive Head Chef, Steve Golding, Sargeant has devised signature seafood dishes that will be served in the Parade Ring Restaurant throughout Royal Ascot.

Below is a sneak preview of his interview from the Royal Ascot Magazine this year, in which he talks about his passion for food, store cupboard essentials and collaboration with Royal Ascot.

Tell us a bit about your involvement with Royal Ascot this year…

I’m very excited about it. I have known David Mulkay, Craft and Food Development Director at Sodexo, who are the sole caterer at Ascot Racecourse, for some years. I met him when I won Chef of the Year. He got in touch and we had a really great meeting. We decided that I would create a series of signature dishes, which could go into many of the different restaurants. A lot of hard work later, here we are with Royal Ascot rapidly approaching.

I wanted to keep the food to the sort of produce-led style that I do in my restaurant. We are very passionate about using fresh, locally sourced produce. The food is not overly fussy but because of the quality of the things that we are using, you need to do very little to it. We just let the ingredients shine but enhance them slightly. The dishes that will be served at Royal Ascot are very tasty but very simple.

Top highlight of the menu you’ve devised?

My favourite, which has become a bit of a signature dish at Rocksalt, is the salt and pepper squid. We do it in an Oriental way with a citrus dressing that’s sweet, salty and sour. I was really keen to get that on the menu because people don’t really think of squid as being very British. People would never usually eat squid at home, but as soon as they go to Italy or Spain, they order deep-fried squid rings with mayonnaise and think they’re being very European. But there’s lots of really beautiful fresh squid in our waters. It’s sustainable, delicious and people should eat more of it.

Your top three store-cupboard essentials?

Condiments! Worcestershire, Tabasco and HP Sauce. It’s amazing what you can do with those three things. You can very quickly make a gravy to go with your roast dinner with a bit of Bisto, a glug of HP and some Worcestershire sauce.

Any new projects in the pipeline?

I’m currently filming a new TV show called Saturday Cookbook. As the name would suggest, it is a cookery show which I co-host with Nadia Sawalha on Saturday mornings 8.30am on ITV. It is very relaxed with simple, tasty recipes that you actually want to cook. Plus, you can buy all of the ingredients from your local supermarket. Cooking should be a pleasure not a chore!

For the full interview, purchase the Official Royal Ascot 2012 Magazine from www.ascot.co.uk for £7.50 in advance.

To book a table and sample the delights of Mark Sargeant’s dishes, visit  www.royalascothospitality.co.uk, call 0844 346 0346 or email hospitality@ascot.co.uk.

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