To book a table at Benedicts, visit http://restaurantbenedicts.com
Winner of the Great British Menu, Bainbridge opened his first solo restaurant in Norwich last year. He tells Imogen Lepere where to eat in his hometown and the restaurants on his international hit list
How was the food on your last holiday? - My wife’s German, so we visited her family in Berlin and Dresden. I was really impressed with Berlin’s street food. A cured meat platter served with cold beer is pretty much perfect but you can’t beat a bratwurst cooked over open flames with curry ketchup. The fine dining scene is about to explode too. While England’s been at the top of its game for years and Nordic countries are steaming ahead, Germany has been cruising beneath the radar. Chefs such as Sven Elverfeld at Aqua are going back to the heritage of German food and making it romantic once more.
Which restaurants are on your hit list to visit? - I’m heading to L’Enclume in Cumbria in a few weeks. I love Simon Rogan’s focus on seasonality. Next on my hit list is Faviken in Sweden and Copenhagen’s Relæ and 108. I am also determined to visit Paul Bocuse’s Auberge du Pont de Collonges in Lyon. It’s a temple – he showed everyone cooking could be rock and roll. Modern cooking totally stemmed from his work in the Sixties.
What are the strong points of Norfolk’s natural larder? - Thanks to our flint and chalk-based soils, we are the Champagne region of pearl barley – we transport it all round the world. It’s a key ingredient in Scottish whisky, Jack Daniels and Japanese whiskies. I use it to make a beautiful risotto, or toast it off and infuse it in panacotta with local raspberries.
Where do you head to eat with your brigade? - When it’s someone’s birthday we go to the Grosvenor Fish Bar, which has been in the same family for 120 years. They have a few innovative dishes I love including Bass with Sass – fried fillet of bass in a wrap with mango chutney and lettuce. Moorish Falafal Bar is my go-to for a quick lunch. Norwich has one of the largest open markets in the UK and I source a lot of vegetables and fish for my restaurant, Benedicts, there. Reggies does a mean bacon sandwich and head to Little Red Roaster for coffee. Craft beer is really taking off here – I love Redwell Brewery’s IPAs and luckily their pub, The Mash Tun, is over the road from Benedicts.
Who are your food heroes? - Michel Roux Sr. I worked at the Waterside Inn for four years but I still call him Mr. Roux. He taught me the foundations of what real food is. When I started I was like a rabbit in the headlights, an inexperienced Norfolk lad in a kitchen with 20 French chefs. When I left I was junior sous chef. I’ve never seen anyone command a room like him. We worked big days there, but he could stand in front of 50 knackered employees, talk in three languages and send them back into the kitchen inspired to work even harder.
What is your favourite kitchen gadget - I love my Thermomix because it cooks and blends at the same time. I pick wild garlic with my daughter then make it into a lovely soup for her.
This article was published on 23rd June 2016 so certain details may not be up to date.