Exclusive Interview with Chef Valentine Warner

Valentine Warner
Valentine Warner. Jake Gavin

Valentine Warner spent five years working in restaurant kitchens before going on to run his private catering company. He has presented numerous cooking and food documentaries for BBC2 and UKTV food.

His first book What To Eat Now offered over 100 autumn and winter recipes in a journey through seasonal food and was entertaining as well as great for cooking.

His latest book, The Good Table Valentine takes us on a journey to home food heaven talking us through why cooking and shopping with care and attention to detail you will learn how to use everyday accessible ingredients in exciting ways.

Am pleased that Valentine was willing to take time from his busy schedule to share a few of his thoughts (and secrets) around, food and cooking as well as a few recipes.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure when no-one else is around?

Not really, but my wife keeps a snack draw, something I never had until I met her and I seem to open that draw quite a lot. Within lies toffees, chocolate bars, Haribo sours, crisps biscuits. All the things I grumble about yet find it hard to stay away from. It needs a padlock - the key on a string around her lovely neck

Who is your role model?

My oldest friend Walter. His mind is open and imaginative. He absorbs information like water in a sponge, considers it well and makes his decisions calmly. His smiling nature and care draws good things to him like a magnet. He manages to accomplish much with great modesty and little fuss.

If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be and what would you cook?

My father but alas he is no longer around.

So much has happened over the last fifteen years. I miss him. Plateau fruits de  mer with a fabulous cold white Burgundy and then a Grand Marnier or Chestnut Soufflé would be our feast.

What misconceptions do people have about British cooking and how would you like to change that?

In a nation stuffed with food telly, books and 'foodies' we seem to be losing the art of cooking at home none the less.

That I find confusing and worrying especially when it comes to children. So I guess I'd like to show people how easy it is to eat well and simply in the hope that more knowledge gives us more choices and some of the food related problems we face can be addressed while enjoying the table. I would like to add that eating around the table as a family is important and I hope this does not disappear

What influences do you think/ hope you have had on British cuisine.

I'm not sure but I hope it may be some of the following. A healthy dollop of enthusiasm in urging people to try things. The seasonal table will make your eating more varied and exciting and give you more choice and an understanding of our produce - surely a release from the 'collective national fridge' that seems full of the same old things week in week out. Above all have no fear, cook with love, if it goes wrong, no matter, try again. To tempt people into mastering some new or forgotten ingredients that appeared scary. There is always something to cook depending on the time you have. Don't let our heritage slip away under a landslide of crap. Eating is an important part of life so value it.

What don't people know about you that you wish they did.

I won the sack race, three legged race and egg and spoon race on the same sports day aged 7.

It was my only sporting achievement

Favourite British food?

What a silly question. I love too many things equally but require each depending on my different mood. Impossible to answer but then what about fat blackberries from the sunny lanes on a parched walk?

My favourite Valentine Warner recipe has to be Valentine's Venison Pie Recipe