Alex Bond

Fresh from winning a first Michelin star, chef Alex Bond talks to Fleur Rollet-Manus about his love of cooking with vegetables, zero-waste kitchens and Nottingham’s eating-out revival

Congratulations on Alchemilla winning its first star. How did you celebrate?

The night we found out, I ate some chilli with the team, gave them all a pat on the back and went straight back to service. Weekends are mental here, so we had no time to do anything else. I do want to take everyone to celebrate properly though. Gareth Ward is one of my best mates, so I’m hopingI can twist his arm into cooking for us all at Ynyshir one Sunday.

You’ve described your food style as ‘plant-based modern British’. Where did your love of vegetables come from?

Like most kids, I absolutely hated them and when I started running marathons six years ago, I was mostly cooking supermarket chicken at home. But then I had this moment where I thought, I wouldn’t serve this in a restaurant, so why am I eating it myself? From that point, I decided to cut out meat that I couldn’t justify ethically and found the free-range stuff from small farms was really too expensive. This led me to tinkering with different vegetables and it just grew from there. The whole process was really organic, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Who in the industry inspires you?

Douglas McMaster at Silo, the zero-waste restaurant in Brighton. I went to a talk of his over the summer and was blown away. I’ve followed his journey for ages and would love to sit him down and pick his brains, especially as we’re hoping to buy an Alchemilla farm soon. Aimsir, in Ireland, is also really inspiring. The only thing they use that isn’t Irish is sugar and they’re working on changing that, too.

Eaten anywhere in the last year that’s wowed you?

I had a wicked tomato dish at The Latymer at Pennyhill Park Hotel in Surrey that has lived on long in my memory. It was simple, really, but the tomatoes were at the height of their season and were served with puffed vermicelli. I’ve never seen that technique used before and I found it really intriguing.

What about in Nottingham? Where’s good to eat?

The city is very cool now; the food scene has really picked up and there’s lots to choose from. I try and organise regular date nights because you’ve got to keep the magic alive, eh? I usually take the missus to Bar Iberico, a world tapas bar that’s a more relaxed version of the original, Iberico – as a chef you want to eat fuss-free food on your day off. There’s also Kushi-ya, a Japanese in Cannon Court, and Zaap, a Thai street-food concept on Bromley Place that’s really authentic. My local, The Ruddington Arms, has a great wine list, too.

How are you spending the winter break?

We shut the restaurant for two weeks so I’m going back to my mum’s in North Yorkshire. We’ll eat at Le Cochon Aveugle, a really progressive bistro in York, and a pub called The Durham Ox in Crayke. It’s very homely and we’ve always had good meals there.

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