insideKENT Magazine Issue 63 - June 2017 - Page 70

FOOD+DRINK KENT PUB PROFILE: THE WHEATSHEAF and THE CASTLE INN DAVID FULLER IS THE HEAD CHEF OF TWO HISTORIC PUB RESTAURANTS, THE WHEATSHEAF AT BOUGH BEECH AND THE CASTLE INN AT CHIDDINGSTONE. THIS MONTH, insideKENT PUT HIM IN THE HOT SEAT. What is your earliest food memory? My mum is a really good cook and always used fresh ingredients, but one day she was in such a rush and served me a ready meal of fish in a sauce. I remember being really upset – I was only about 10 at the time. How did you get started in the industry? How important is locally sourced food to you? I started right on the bottom rung as a kitchen porter at The Grand Hotel in Brighton at the age of 16. I was very lucky as the hotel paid for my college tuition. It gave me a great start and throughout my 20-year career I have worked with some amazing chefs. It is very important to use the best ingredients and if they happen to be on our doorstep all the better. Our kitchen garden is in the DNA of The Wheatsheaf menu – during the summer, our customers will be eating tomatoes that have travelled a few metres to the plate. What brought you to Chiddingstone? Do you have a signature dish? Becoming a dad (I have two children aged two and six) meant I wanted to find a balance between being a head chef and a father. What attracted me to The Wheatsheaf was the amount of land behind the pub – I could envisage it as the perfect kitchen garden for the pub’s dishes. I have recently perfected a chocolate orange mousse, but I wouldn’t say I have a signature dish because I am always tweaking recipes as it makes the dining experience more exciting for our customers – the evolution of food is a wonderful thing. Are the menus for the two pubs very different? In one way, yes they are – The Castle Inn is very classic British pub food and The Wheatsheaf is modern European. But both 70 pubs use the best ingredients and we are big on locally sourced food. For example, our Ploughman’s uses Charcott cheddar, a gold medal winner made just eight miles away. Has becoming a dad changed your attitude to children’s menus? I’m now a firm believer that children should eat freshly cooked food so that all the nutrients are retained. None of our children’s dishes are pre-cooked – we even make our own pasta and my daughter can’t get enough of our homemade vanilla ice cream. I also think it is important to be flexible when it comes to serving families – if they want a child’s portion of an adult dish rather than eat from the children’s menu then I am happy to accommodate. THE CASTLE INN HAS JUST LAUNCHED ITS KIDS’ CLUB MENU FOR THE SCHOOL RUN. FRESHLY COOKED, CHILD-FRIENDLY DISHES WITH FREE HOMEMADE ICE CREAM IF ORDERED BEFORE 5PM WEEKDAYS. CHILDREN AGED UNDER SEVEN CAN EAT FREE* UP UNTIL 7PM, WEEKDAYS, AT THE WHEATSHEAF (*MAXIMUM TWO CHILDREN PER ONE ADULT WHO IS ALSO DINING).