Meet Eduard Grecu, head chef at Woolacombe Bay Hotel
PUBLISHED: 15:58 09 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:58 09 November 2015
For Eduard Grecu, Head Chef at Woolacombe Bay Hotel, a life's passion is being played out in the kitchen
What is your earliest food memory?
I prepared a polenta for the whole family together with a hearty rabbit stew, when I was aged nine!
How did you get into cooking?
I first went studied history and archaeology at university, but my life took a different turn when I met my wife and we decided to come to the UK, where I started a career in catering.
What made you decide to be a chef?
It was the only thing that really felt natural.
What was your first experience of cooking professionally?
In the busy place that I worked for the first time, the breakfast assigned chef left suddenly and I had to cook breakfast for 300 people! I swiftly left and started at the Woolacombe Bay Hotel, where I learnt to cook in a professional environment, whilst obtaining qualifications at the local catering college.
What successes or failures did you have in the early days?
I can’t recall anything major, I was very motivated, so absorbing as much as possible was the main priority.
How did you progress to where you are now?
I can rightly say that I was fortunate enough to work with some good chefs that both inspired and guided me. I am an organised and self-motivated individual, which I think plays a big part. Always staying behind to try something new, always trying to improve my work at every level, researching and practising all the time.
What sort of foods and flavours inspire you?
All food, really! I believe in balance which is key. It’s all about using fresh, real ingredients and cooking, getting the best out of what’s around at any given time of the year.
What are your food ‘hates’?
I hate messy food, I also despise the use of chemicals in food and the fake fast food.
Do you have any signature dishes?
To me it is more to do with improving everything I work with, as we never really invent much in the kitchen, unless we come up with something really unusual that is not necessarily popular. It is more about adapting and twisting the well-known combinations of flavours, textures and colours. I could mention, if anything, herb crusted pollack, pomme Anna potatoes, pea, pancetta and crème fraiche sauce as being “my finding”.
How important is sourcing to you?
Sourcing is one of the key aspects of cooking and at the Woolacombe Bay Hotel, is no different. We run a successful hotel because we are very careful with our standards at every level.
Who are your preferred suppliers?
S& J fisheries for fresh fish, Ivan Clarke for fresh local meat, MC Kelly for poultry and delicatessen and many more smaller local producers.
Who inspires you in the cooking world?
I can’t ignore the plethora of culinary giants like Raymond Blanc, Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay, etc, as well as amazing younger generation of Jason Atherton, Nathan Outlaw, Alan Murchison, Tom Kitchin etc, but my absolute favourite is Giorgio Locatelli at Locanda Locatelli, on Seymour Street, London.
What would be your one professional’s tip for an amateur home cook?
If you love cooking, you don’t really need a tip, as you will keep on tasting your food and research and improve all the time. If you don’t love cooking, look at it as your best health asset and investment and find that a piece of toast on which you rub fresh garlic and cover with a chopped fresh tomato, olive oil and seasoning is far quicker than defrosting a ready meal!