15 Minutes with Steve Drake

Known for his acclaimed restaurant in Ripley, Drake’s, Steve Drake reveals his festive food favourites for food & flavour

How do you think the culinary scene has changed over the past year?
I see a lot of restaurants that want to grow their own produce or use produce from more within their own environment. I think we’re going back to basics, in a good way. There are also lots more dishes with vegetables as the focus. They can be overwhelmed by a rich piece of meat, but they’re being more appreciated for their delicate flavours. Health trends also filter into the restaurant scene, but generally, I think people just want fresh, vibrant, healthy but tasty, creative ingredients. The ingredients are the most important thing.

What do you like to eat for Christmas?
I do love turkey but my favourite thing to eat at Christmas is duck. Roast duck is incredible. You can cook it a little bit more, either pink – which is how I personally like it – or you can cook it well done and it’s still amazing. You can’t do that with some birds. You could also make gravy from the bones.

What are your plans for next year?
I’m in the process of planning a new restaurant, and I can tell you what I’ve decided to call it – Sorrel. I love Sorrel, I use it in everything. It’s also a nod to my love of the outside.

Can you tell us a little bit about your vision?
If I could condense it down to one word, it would be ‘Discovery’, which is the way I’ve written my menus before. That’s the journey that I want to take our customers on. I want people to see the creativity, to feel it. It might be being able to see into the kitchen, I don’t know yet, but I want the customers to discover. It’ll be a special occasion restaurant so we’ll work really hard to make it the best that we can.

Do you have favourite local suppliers?
One place I really love is Secretts in Milford, it’s quite incredible, and I’ve used F. Conisbee & Son butchers in East Horsley for years. I like to collaborate with lots of suppliers because they’re experts in their area. I go to them for advice – I ask them what’s good right now and they tell me what to work with. Then I hopefully bring out the best in those ingredients

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