CORNWALL FOOD HEROES: ANDY APPLETON AT FIFTEEN
PUBLISHED: 15:53 15 February 2016 | UPDATED: 12:43 30 August 2017
© sean gee 2014
Andy APPLETON has been head chef at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall since March 2010 andwas part of the team that launched the Fifteen social enterprise concept back in 2002
Andy APPLETON has been head chef at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall since March 2010. Originally a senior sous chef at Fifteen London, he was part of the team that launched the Fifteen social enterprise concept back in 2002. Andy went on to become head chef at the Italian-style Tabernacle Bar & Grill in Shoreditch, London before moving to Fifteen Cornwall in 2007.
How would you describe your food style?
My recipes, style of cooking and the dishes on our menu are very rustic and honest. They are Italian-inspired and focus on the ingredients. Our twice-daily changing menu is dependent on seasonality and the availability of ingredients.
Who has been your greatest food influence?
I loved Keith Floyd growing up. He took a fly in the wall attitude to cooking; If he messed up, it didn’t matter. Travelling the world, eating out and looking at cookbooks have all influenced the way I approach food.
How important is seasonality in your menu?
Our menu is created around the seasons. As a chef in Cornwall, you’re very aware of seasonality. It is our apprentices’ first autumn in the kitchen so they are seeing everything first hand as squash and game are starting to arrive.
What is your favourite flavour of Cornwall?
In Cornwall we have some of the best seafood in the world, and I particularly like spider crab. Crab and scallops are always popular and fly off the menu. A fresh scallop is one of the best things ever, and ours are hand-dived off the Cornish coast.
What ingredient couldn’t you do without?
We like strong flavours in our kitchen: anchovies, garlic and chilli make our dishes what they are. I also couldn’t do without olive oil and parmesan. My favourite are first-press Tuscan olive oils, and the parmesan we use is aged for up to 24 months.
What was your most memorable meal?
A few years ago I went to Osteria Francescana in Modena. The meal was sublime. The parmesan dish blew me away, and Massimo’s Caesar salad is like no other. I love eating out and trying new things - this is what keeps me enthused and inspired.
Why did you become a chef?
I always loved food. While at school, I worked part-time in a fruit and veg shop, and made sausages at lunchtime at the butcher’s next door. I didn’t train as a chef, but had always worked in kitchens to earn money to travel. At 30, I returned to London, and worked at a restaurant where I could go back to basics. I started at the bottom as a commis chef, working my way up to head chef in two years.
What is your food heaven?
I am a massive fan of Italian food and sometimes want to eat what I’ve been cooking all day. I also love punchy flavours and the combination of fish sauce, lime, coriander, chilli, you find in Asian and Mexican dishes. This is the food I often cook at home.
What is your idea of food hell?
As a chef I think it’s important to embrace different flavours and ingredients, and to be open minded. I’m not a big fan of some of the more unusual foraged ingredients; I prefer not to eat meat that has been cooked sous vide; and I’ll eat some offal but wouldn’t order it.
What do you think will be big in 2016?
I think things are going back to basics: cooking simply, using open fires, thinking more about seasonality and providence.
Street food is a big trend; a lot more chefs are packing up and buying vans. I also feel that pasta is getting very popular again. More people are making their own at home which is great.
Now try Andy'sCornish Venison with Squash & Chestnut Caponata
For the rubbed Venison
800g venison loin
1 teaspoon juniper berries (freshly ground)
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns (freshly ground)
For the Caponata
4 tablespoons of good’ oil
1 red onion (sliced)
1 fennel (sliced)
1 teaspoon dried chilli
2 celery stalks (sliced)
200g chestnuts (choose the pre-cooked option)
250g cherry tomatoes
1 medium Crown Prince squash (peeled, diced
125g dried cranberries (steeped in balsamic vinegar for at least 2 hours)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
A small pinch of cinnamon
Salt and pepper
Rub the venison loin with the black pepper and juniper. Leave to marinade for at least a couple of hours (overnight is better).
For the caponata: In a hot pan add the oil, red onion, fennel, dried chilli, celery and chestnuts and sauté until golden. Add cherry tomatoes, the roasted squash, cranberries, thyme and cinnamon, then let it cook out for another five minutes or so and season to taste.
While the caponata is cooking char-grill your venison on a high heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. Remember venison has almost no fat so cooking it more than medium rare will dry it out.
To serve, slice the venison and place on top of your caponata, pour over the pan juices and drizzle with good olive oil.
Enjoy straight away!