In spite of his jam packed schedule, we managed to grab 5 minutes with Richard Troman, our Development chef of 5 years now!
1. What is your earliest cooking memory?
I have fuzzy memories of making peppermint drops in the kitchen with my mother, and being peripherally involved in the making of my father’s bonfire night toffee. The thing that sticks in the mind most though is when I made an apple tart for a school cookery class. I couldn’t have been older than 11, but I managed to produce something that wasn’t entirely embarrassing to look at. I remember, however, when it came to trying it that I was extremely disappointed with the flavour and no amount of praise would convince me it was anything other than a failure. I ended up throwing it away on my way home… It seems I had set my bar high from the get go.
2. Who inspired you to cook?
My father was always the cook in the house when I was growing up. Spoiled as we were, I thought it was normal to have three course Sunday lunches (prawn cocktail, a huge ornate roast and crepe suzette flambéed tableside), homemade pizza from scratch, homemade pies, and so on. I found myself with a deep abiding love of food that I simply could not shake, and it led me almost subconsciously into a career in the industry.
3. What is your favourite dish to cook?
The position I’m in affords me the opportunity to research a wide variety of cuisines. This gives me a pretty eclectic repertoire, but I am a huge fan of anything you can throw in the middle of a table and have people interact with. Think Bo Ssam style slow cooked meats, huge pies or cobblers or large pots of broth or soups with tiny dishes of garnishes for people to customise themselves.
4. What is your favourite food to eat?
As all chefs, I eat very poorly. I am never happier than when I am standing somewhere I shouldn’t, eating something profoundly unhealthy with one hand. If it can be smothered in chilli sauce or some decadent variety of mayo, so much the better.
5. If you could choose someone famous to have dinner with who would it be and why?
Anthony Bourdain. My first Head chef forced me to read his book “Kitchen Confidential” and it summed up the culinary world so well. His writing betrays a humour and a passion for food that I think we both share.
6. What’s your favourite TV show?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I have enjoyed the Chef’s Table series on Netflix. The opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the best and most influential chefs in the world from the comfort of your home is equaled nowhere else.
7. It’s Saturday night and you don’t want to cook, so you’re heading to your favourite restaurant. What is it and why?
There’s a tiny little hole in the wall Mexican not far from my house. It serves the best Tortas this side of Tijuana. Crispy, hot and delicious with the generously applied and flavoured fillings spill out, blowing your mind with every bite, I find them impossible to resist. Liberal application of their house chilli sauces is downright mandatory.
8. What’s your favourite kitchen gadget?
I’m not a big gadget chef, and I prefer to lean on traditional methods and equipment. However, there is one recent(ish) invention that renders a chef’s life so much easier. Combi Ovens. The ability to control humidity, heat down to the degree, and easily pre program times and complex cooking instructions makes this the single greatest addition to a kitchen anywhere, home or professional.
9. What’s the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
When I was running a small pub in the UK we wanted to make pig head terrine. We had never done this before, but that didn’t stop us. We boiled the head in a court bouillon until the meat was falling off the bone, and we were very happy with the result. As we were pulling it apart, we noticed the brain. Powerless to resist, we ate pigs brain in a variety of different formats that day. Fried, breaded, beaten into hollandaise, there was no limit to our attempts.
10. If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?
I would love the opportunity to travel more to get a closer view of the food industry at a grassroots level around the world. This is already something I get to do, but it never gets old. People are putting fascinating things in their mouths all round the world and I want to know about it all. I would also love the opportunity to write more about food and the industry and hope to be able to do that in the future.
11. If you could have one wish for the future of the industry what would it be?
It’s already begun, but I would very much like to see the trend to eliminate as much wastage as possible continue. It is unconscionable to waste food in a world where so many do not have enough. The new technologies developing worldwide that are beginning to offer non animal based proteins are extremely exciting, offering as they do options to nourish the world, as well as do so in a pleasing way. I would love for the industry to continue to battle the stigma these products are still facing and embrace the future.
12. Do you have any exciting new projects in the pipeline?
My role involves me working closely with our customers on various projects, and my customer base is extremely diverse, so I am fortunate enough to have a very wide variety of exciting projects to choose from. Right now I am looking to revitalize a relatively stale market with loads of exciting concepts lifted from street food concepts around the world.