PUBLISHED: 06:25 27 October 2014
© Archant Norfolk 2014
Paul Platten, head chef at Reeves Parlour Restaurant at Bawdeswell Garden Centre, loves matching his menus with the seasons he sees displayed in the gardens all around him.
I was inspired by an older cousin who had been a chef and lecturer for many years - in fact, he later taught me when I went to Great Yarmouth College.
What is your earliest food-related memory?
Making shortbread in a domestic science lesson at secondary school. I think it was the first thing we made. In the 1970s it was still unusual for a boy to do cooking and there were only three of us boys, in a class full of girls.
What is the strangest thing you have eaten?
Antelope and ostrich while travelling in Kenya.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I think the highlight of my career was to prepare and cook for two members of the Royal Family. I cooked for Prince Charles at the Garden House hotel in Cambridge in the late 1980s, and then for Princess Anne in Newmarket.
What do you enjoy most about working at Bawdeswell Garden Centre?
Working with a good friendly and dedicated team.
What would you say is special about your menu?
We try to use locally sourced and seasonal produce whenever possible. For example, I like to get meat from Farm to Fork at Swannington. Most of our suppliers are local.
What is your favourite Norfolk ingredient?
It really depends on the season, as I like to use what is available nearby, but favourite local ingredients include asparagus, summer fruits and fresh Cromer crab.
Are there any foods you can’t stand?
I can’t stand using packet soup.
Have you had any cooking disasters?
I had an accident with a carving trolley in a posh Cambridge hotel restaurant while carving for VIP guests. It was one of those big silver-domed carving trolleys which we wheeled to the table, and carved and served the meat in front of the guests. A ladle got caught and I splattered gravy across all these VIP businessmen.
What would your last supper consist of?
I’m not a big eater so it might simply be aged sirloin of beef, cooked rare. But if I was going to have dessert too then it would be something simple and classic again, like a creme brulee.
Do you cook for friends and family too?
Yes, I do cook for friends and family but only on special occasions, then I will pull out all the stops.
Food, flowers and fare
Bawdeswell Garden Centre is not just a great destination for flowers and shrubs, trees, ornaments, water features and garden buildings. It also has beautiful gardens of its own; a food hall packed with locally sourced produce including, fresh meat, fish, cheese, bakery, beers, wines, fruit and vegetables; and Reeve’s Parlour Restaurant serving meals and snacks including breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea.
Restaurant opening times until the end of October, Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm. Sunday 10.30am-4pm. (Closes 4.30pm Monday to Saturday from November to March.)
The Bawdeswell Garden Centre, Norwich Road, Bawdeswell, Norfolk, NR20 4RZ;
01362 688387; www.bawdeswellgardencentre.co.uk