A heart for the Hart

PUBLISHED: 06:52 14 April 2014

The Red Hart Inn, Bodham. head chef Lucian Stinga.

The Red Hart Inn, Bodham. head chef Lucian Stinga. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

Why did you choose to become a chef?

I grew up in Romania and when I got the chance to be a kitchen porter I realised that the kitchen was my home. I just loved the adrenalin and the passion everyone had for the job, and that’s what I wanted.

Where did you train?

I started off in a Romanian hotel as a kitchen porter, and got offered a chance to go college, which is where my training began. I worked my way up to sous chef and then moved on to England at 23, to a work experience programme at Congham Hall.

What is your earliest food-related memory?

When I was at college learning my trade I had to live there. The food we used to get was always very small portions, so the only way to get more food was to become friends with the chef and to do extra jobs for him!

What is the strangest thing you have eaten?

Bear legs in Romania (and I won’t be eating them again!)

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

There have been a few highlights along the way but I think being head chef at the Red Hart is one of the most exciting, but demanding, challenges I have done.

What do you enjoy most about working at The Red Hart?

I can put all my ideas into practice and show my passion for my food to the customers. I enjoy working with the young team and the appreciation from customers. Everything is fresh and from local suppliers. Our menu changes frequently to make sure we keep up to date with the seasons and keep a good standard, which is affordable for our customers.

What is your favourite local ingredient?

I wouldn’t like to choose one in particular, we have such a fabulous range of local ingredients including herbs, samphire, asparagus, mussels, crabs, lobster and we also have our regulars who kindly bring in their lovely home-grown apples, pears and plums . . . It’s all too good to pick one or two.

Are there any foods you can’t stand?

Not really, apart from the Romanian bear! But I’m really not a fan of any kind of microwaved meal.

Have you had any cooking disasters?

In a kitchen you always have the odd disaster from time to time. It’s a fact of life and of course you’ll always have a time when right in the middle of service there’ll be a power cut or the oven will break down, but it’s how you get around those disasters that is important.

What would your last supper consist of?

Actually I’m not sure I want to know it’s my last supper and I don’t think I’d have much of an appetite. It would be about who I spent that time with, so I think I’d get my wife to cook and spend my last supper with family and friends.

Do you cook for friends and family too?

I do, but should do more!

The Red Hart, The Street, Bodham, near Sheringham, NR25 6AD; 01263 588270; www.redhartbodham.co.uk

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