It was fantastic to have the opportunity to meet Rosa Banbury, who recently featured in the Sunday Times giving the lowdown on being a Private Chef.
Please could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you became the chef you are today?
I was lucky enough to train at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. There, our fantastic tutors took great care to teach us the importance of sustainability, ethical food production, and eating with the seasons. This ignited a passion that has remained with me since leaving Ballymaloe, and has shaped the cook I am today.
Can you remember what the first game dish you ever cooked was?
I can definitely remember it. It was roast pheasant. An unmitigated disaster. Thankfully I have learnt from my mistakes. For years I was not confident cooking game – I always stuck to a recipe and followed it to the letter. I can remember the fear now – constantly peering in the oven door hoping it hadn’t gone wrong. Then a few years ago I was asked to cook for a client who had a shoot. I cannot explain how much this helped my confidence – for the first time ever, game was in plentiful supply, and experimenting was encouraged. Malaysian pheasant curry has now become a bit of a staple.
What do you think is the biggest challenge when cooking game?
It used to be availability. However thankfully it is now much easier to source.
What is your favourite game bird to cook, and how do you like to cook it?
Ah well that is easy – Malaysian pheasant curry!
And the worst?
Which chefs inspire and influence you? (they don’t have to be game related)
Nigel Slater, Rose Grey & Ruth Rogers, Elizabeth David, and Darina Allen
Top 3 tips for cooking game?
- Don’t overcomplicate it
- Don’t roast something that has been in the freezer for 6 years and is covered in freezer burn. It will make a delicious stock, but not a delicious roast.
- It is crucial to rest game well, so build this into your timings.
How do you encourage people to eat game?
Luckily it seems to need less and less encouragement. We have a great British product, and people seem to be becoming more aware of it.
Surprising ingredients that compliment game?
Star anise and cardamon. Their flavours compliment game so well. I always add them both to the base of my game casseroles.
Favourite tipple with a pheasant?
Any advice for young budding chefs?
I’m not sure I’m wise enough to be giving advice! But I can pass on something that someone once told me: ‘Even the worlds best chefs still ask questions’.