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Paul George Bending, head chef at Number One the Strand shares his path into the food industry

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Meet the chef


Devon Life meets Paul George Bending, head chef at No.1 The Strand, Shaldon

What is your earliest food memory?
As a toddler I would sit in the garden for hours with a bowl of flour, I was fascinated by it. I remember my grandmothers Sunday lunch though: plates of overcooked meat, roast potatoes, a flat soggy Yorkshire and a lump of suet pudding.

How did you get into cooking?
My parents would go out on the weekend and come home to a buffet on their sideboard, simple things like sausage rolls and jam tarts. Often the ingredients were not in the larder so I would have to improvise.

What made you decide to be a chef?
I always thought I would cook for a living, although as a boy I was adamant it was going to be in the Royal Navy. Some years later I was recruited as head chef on a motor yacht so my dream of going to sea became a reality.

What was your first experience of cooking professionally?
I served an egg mayonnaise starter at the George and Dragon in Clyst St George in the early eighties. Throughout school and at cadet camps, I always ended up on kitchen duty.

What successes or failures did you have in the early days?
I once served a fish pie in a hotel near Exeter, it was golden brown to look at but it was frozen solid in the centre.

How did you progress to where you are now?
I worked my way around London and I worked as sous chef at Le Meridien Hotel, Piccadilly. After two years I returned to Devon and cooked at the Barton Cross Hotel for 14 years gaining stars, rosettes and awards.

What sort of foods and flavours inspire you?
I like good hearty well-balanced flavours. You cant beat the classic sole fillets poached in Vermouth, spring lamb with herb crust and dauphinoise potatoes.

What are your food hates?
I wont eat brussel sprouts unless they are sauted in butter, chestnuts and bacon.

Do you have any signature dishes?
Sauted strips of beef fillet with stilton port and walnuts, seared scallops with a courgette mousse and gazpacho, peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake.

How important is sourcing to you?
Here at Number One, I can throw a bread roll into the sea from the front door so sourcing fresh fish is easy. I try my best to source locally as Devon is an amazing place for produce.

Who are your preferred suppliers?
The Shaldon bakery supply me with a wonderful array of baguettes and sandwiches and right next door is Orsmans the butcher, voted butcher of the year in 2012.

Describe the best meal you have ever had.
It was at Le Manoir aux QuatSaisons when I was working in Shinfield. It was an excellent experience, the guinea fowl with pink grapefruit sticks in my mind.

Who inspires you in the cooking world?
Augustus Escoffier is the father of all our cuisine. Modern chefs may well debate this. But there would be no cooking without Scoff!

Who would you most like to have round for a dinner party?
Horatio Nelson, Augustus Escoffier, Bruce Springsteen, Charles Dickens and my grandfather Mr George Paddon.

No 1 The Strand, Shaldon, Teignmouth, TQ14 0DL. 01626 872 824
numberonethestrand.co.uk

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