PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 June 2015
Archant Norfolk 2015
Sam Smith, head chef and owner of The Fox in Hevingham, near Aylsham, loves local produce – and food from much further afield too.
Why did you choose to become a chef?
I grew up around pubs and restaurants, my parents being landlords, and spent much of my youth learning to cook. I tried a few different careers after leaving school and always found myself being drawn back to the heat and excitement of a busy kitchen.
Where did you train?
The vast majority of my training came from working my way through the ranks at my previous employment, in the next village as head chef at The Chequers in Hainford.
What is your earliest food-related memory?
I can remember the time when I first tried venison while out on a family meal - I must have been around 12 or 13 - the rich taste and character of the meat has stayed with me and I have loved it ever since.
What is the strangest thing you have eaten?
A few years back I was lucky enough to spend some time travelling Australia where I was able to sample crocodile and emu.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
It has got to be realising the dream of owning my own restaurant and finally becoming my own boss.
What do you enjoy most about working at The Fox?
I work with a great team at The Fox. Also being located in the heart of Norfolk, we are surrounded by so many great local ingredients. We are spoiled for choice when it comes to quality suppliers.
What would you say is special about your menu?
We try to ensure we offer something for everyone, from classic dishes to the more innovative daily specials, while keeping an eye on the seasons and current food trends.
What is your favourite Norfolk ingredient?
So many to choose from, but for me it’s got to be the Cromer crab with its beautifully sweet meat.
Are there any foods you can’t stand?
Bottom-of-the-range, over-processed sausages. I couldn’t even imagine eating one.
Have you had any cooking disasters?
Who hasn’t! I can remember when I had recently become head chef at my previous employment. During a busy service we had a power cut. I volunteered to finish the shift by candlelight, using only the gas cooker, resulting in incredibly slow service and several burns.
What would your last supper consist of?
Probably something involving a nice, slow-cooked piece of lamb, maybe a shank. I love Greek cuisine as well so perhaps a kleftiko, followed by some good cheese with crackers.
Do you cook for friends and family too?
Yes, I love to cook at home, although I don’t get the chance to entertain as often as I’d like. When I have an evening off it is usually me who does the cooking.