Restaurants Brighton in Q & A with Ben McKellar
Ben McKellar is also known as The Ginger Chef and has opened 4 food driven venues in Brighton and Sussex. Ben works alongside his wife and business partner Pamela McKellar.
Which is your favourite food to cook with?
As a chef I have a great interest in all types of food, I love cooking with meat, fish and vegetables. I think cooking during the seasons is very important because you get to use produce that are at their freshest and most desirable. I find the game season particularly rewarding because it does not last that long and it offers the chance to cook very different things. Pheasants, Partridges, hares and grouse are all delicious and not available all year round.
Where were you trained? Give us a few details and would you recommend it?
I left school in Brighton and went to City College to do a 2 year full time cookery course. Upon leaving college I went to France in search of work and ended up in Avignon in a couple of Michelin Star restaurants. I stayed in France for 3 years and then worked for John Burton-Race at his famous L’Ortolan restaurant in Berkshire upon returning to the U.K.
After L’Ortolan I returned to Brighton to work at 1 Paston Place in Kemptown and then headed to New York City where I worked in a delux Bistro on park Avenue. I opened the Gingerman restaurant in 1998 and now run 4 pubs and restaurants with my wife Pamela.
Best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast?
The most important advice I was given when training was not to over complicate food. To get the best results in the kitchen you need to use the freshest most seasonal ingredients and then don’t muck about with them.
The famous French chef Fernand Point had a quote that really sums up what I mean. He said “ask not what you can add to a dish but what you can take away” Fernand was very clear on simplicity.
He believed that two or three things on the plate were enough. This philosophy has become more fashionable in recent years and is such a sensible route to follow today.