Leon Davies – BGA Chef Ambassador

 

Please could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you became the chef you are today?

My background has mostly been AA Red star and highly acclaimed country house hotels all over the UK. I can honestly say that every Senior Chef I have worked for taught me something to use in my successful career, notably the current British Culinary Federation Chairman Stuart Mcleod and Gray Wheeler.

 

Can you remember what the first game dish you ever cooked was?

I can, and I will never forget it. As a young, fresh faced Commis chef, I was working at Bindon Country House, and Marco Pierre White (staying at the hotel) walked into the kitchen, and placed 10 freshly shot partridge on the side and was like “Chef, here you go – dinner tonight and I’ll go with what you recommend”. Completely bamboozled me. Luckily I had Head Chef Patrick Robert (classically French trained chef) at the helm to rock this challenge and he didn’t disappoint, with pot roasted partridge and juniper spiced red cabbage. MPW returned later that night after service with a very good bottle of wine and offered all the boys in the kitchen a glass to say thanks.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge when cooking game?

Well now it’s not about what you do with it because let’s face it, in the last few years, game has been a huge success story in the meat sector, with so many more people cooking and using it that you can find recipes everywhere, which is amazing. My challenge is…are chefs using BGA Assured game birds? If not, why not.

As the hospitality industry got hammered by COVID-19, and we have been in lockdown, people are cooking more and more at home, and even more so care about the ingredients they are using. Quality, high welfare, assurance schemes and traceability are more important than ever.

It’s now time for a proper challenge. I challenge any chef that isn’t using BGA Assured game birds. Time for change in our kitchens. That’s the challenge.

 

What is your favourite gamebird to cook, and how do you like to cook it?

Mine is the humble pheasant. I switch it out in anything you can use a bird for in cooking. My lockdown go-to at the moment, is crispy pheasant and wild mushroom risotto.

 

And the worst?

I don’t have a worst if I’m honest!

 

Which chefs inspire and influence you? (they don’t have to be game related)

Freddie Sheen – Rouges London – the kid is magical in the kitchen
Alex Parker – Hand & Flowers – one to watch, that’s for sure. I had a few tasty treats delivered in lockdown from the lad (COVID safe of course!)
Richard O’Connell – Seasoned Consultancy – the guy is like an Irish wizard with game. Mega.

 

Top 3 tips for cooking game?

Be creative, “yes it will go with that” attitude, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

 

How do you encourage people to eat game in your restaurants?

Well I don’t have a restaurant, but I try to take something that is an everyday meal, and  just switch the meat out for game. Small steps normally work.

 

Surprising ingredients that compliment game?

You know what, it’s not that surprising, but I had some Langoustines left from my dish dinner the day before, and paired that up with venison loin and duck fat chips last week! Made a Lango stock, reduced it, and added it to my Venison Jus, knob of butter to monté…magical.

 

Favourite tipple with a pheasant?

Thatchers gold, or Sauvignon from New Zealand.

 

Any advice for budding young chefs?

Yes – keep pushing, keep dreaming, keep learning. You can never stop learning, and a chef once told me; Refine, Refine, Refine!