"It feels like you're bursting out of winter when the asparagus season starts." We chat to Charlie Hibbert, head of all things food at the leading Cotswolds destination Thyme.
Q: Being a chef is a famously stressful career. How do you unwind?
A: An occasional lie in is a must. A walk with the dog, and a quiet meal - in or out - with my wife Molly. A Guinness never goes amiss too.
Q: Thyme grows a lot of its own food. What advice would you give to someone starting to grow their own produce?
A: I am about to start a little vegetable garden at home. It's best to start with a clear plan and not to overstretch yourself, you want to enjoy it rather than for it to become a chore.
Q: You left London for the Cotswolds. What do you miss about the city? What's the biggest perk of living and working in the countryside?
A: I miss the restaurants at your doorstep, the variety, and the quality. It's a real luxury having all of that available to you. The biggest perk of being in the countryside would be the space and quiet. It's nice to strike a balance, I appreciate London now I live in the Cotswolds.
Q: Which country inspires your cooking the most, outside of the UK?
A: European food culture is vast and fascinating, with variations of recipes scattered across the continent. Italy has a certain culinary romance, and I suppose that has a hold on me.
Q: What are you proudest of?
A: My family... but don't tell them that.
Q: What has been your best lockdown purchase and why?
A: I bought a workbench that has me scheming up all sorts of projects which will probably exasperate my wife. If that's too practical, I bought myself a new bespoke knife which I don't need and can't afford.
Q: What would our readers be surprised to learn about you?
A: I'm a huge racing fan, specifically F1. I suppose that's a guilty secret, as it's not very on-brand.
Q: What is your worst habit?
A: Incessant knee jiggling.
Q: Who would be your dream dinner party guest and why?
A: Someone fun... I would have loved to meet Anthony Bourdain, he would be a fantastic character to have at the table. Jamie Oliver would be great too, or even Stephen Fry. Could I have a table for 4?
Q: What makes your house your home?
A: Molly, Bonnie (the dog), and I have just moved into our new house. The process of filling it with our things, redecorating, and painting makes it feel like we have made it a home.
Q: Is your style minimalist or maximalist?
A: I think I lean closer towards minimalist. However, I take all my cues on style from my mother, Caryn. She has an amazing eye for detail and the vision to see what a room or house can be. I don't have that.
Q: What does your ideal Sunday look like?
A: My family has always loved to host, and that meant Sunday lunches with friends- outside in summer, by the fire in winter. Even when there are no guests over, preparing a lovely lunch is extremely enjoyable.
Q: You're walking the plank first thing tomorrow. What does your last meal entail?
A: It chops and changes... I think a plate of asparagus, with butter sauce, a poached egg, and parmesan. It feels like you're bursting out of winter when the asparagus season starts.