10 Questions for Chef Tom Allbrook from Hornbrook Kitchen


Regular readers might have noticed that each Wednesday evening we post a ‘Recipe Of The Week’.  These are created by our tame chef Tom Allbrook from Hornbrook Kitchen, a new company based in North Devon.  They’ve been doing their share of events and getting themselves out to a wider audience.

I was intrigued to know more about what Hornbrook Kitchen is all about and some of the inspiration behind the fantastic recipes featured on Eating Exeter.

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1. What is Hornbrook Kitchen? Where can we eat your food?

Hornbrook Kitchen started as an idea we bounced off each other when me and my partner where travelling across America on our ‘food trip’. We saw so many different food ideas and cultures, we wanted to bring some of this back to England with us.

We came up with the name from a collaboration of our surnames to keep it personal to us. We have worked within the food industry for many years and decided that we were ready to take on a new challenge and start our own venture. Although still early days for us we are hoping to hit up street food events, markets, festivals, etc all over Devon & Somerset. Not only doing street food we can offer fine dining and can be hired out for private catering events.

2. Who is your greatest inspiration in the Chef world?

This is an easy one for me, Jamie Oliver without a doubt. He is my all-time favourite Chef. I started watching him when I was about 8 years old and have been following him ever since. I love what he does with food and the way he cooks, but also the passion he has for great food and good ingredients. He has been a huge inspiration to me in the way I cook now and the chef I have become.

3. I noticed you were part of a team that won a Taste Of The West award? Tell me more…

This is something I had done before at previous pubs so I thought it was a great opportunity to do again but this time it was my own menu so it meant a lot to win a gold for my food and was a really good thing for the pub and boost for myself and the team.

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4. As a chef, what is the benefit of living in a Devon with so many fresh ingredients on your doorstep?

I find you can really eat the seasons, just a couple months ago I was out picking wild garlic from the hedgerows and taking it home to cook with. Sometimes I take trips down to the coast to do a spot of sea fishing with my brother in law who is also a chef although I have to say they haven’t been very successful. But this is what food is all about for me  -smells, the fun and the flavours.

5. I hear you’ve been on a journey recently to the states?

The idea for this trip came up over a beer one night with some old friends of mine. I never really thought any more about it or that it would actually happen, as it was just an idea. But every time we met up we spoke a little more about it and a few months after that we thought actually why not? I am a massive fan of smoked BBQ food and my friends have their own food van called ‘Lola’s Wings’. They really wanted to get out there and see more street-food for themselves so it seemed like the perfect trip.

So with my partner also we set off in a camper van that we hired and traveled from New York to LA covering about 4000 miles. Searching out the best BBQ and street-food joints that America had to offer, and there were so many. The highlight of the trip for me was getting to Franklin’s BBQ to try some of the well known smoked brisket. After a 4 hour wait, queuing patiently outside the restaurant on a early Sunday morning I finally got to try it; it was well worth the wait.

6. What is your culinary guilty pleasure?

It’s very old school, but you can’t beat Toad In The Hole with mash, peas and onion gravy. I was lucky enough to have parents that are pretty nifty in the kitchen so I was brought up on good quality, home cooked meals every day. I have kept that influence in my own style of cooking.

7. If you had to rescue one item from your burning kitchen, what would it be?

That would have to be my little black book of recipes. It’s my cooking Bible. I started writing all my ideas, recipes and inspirations down at about the age of 4. One day I will use this to write my first cook book.

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8. What is the future plan for Hornbrook Kitchen?

HornBrook Kitchen is still in its early stages, its hard to say how the business will develop but we are hoping that it will be a great success. Our main aim at the moment is to get our name out there and be known for serving good quality, locally sourced and sustainable food to the highest standard and to have fun with it.

We are both great lovers of travel so if we can combine our work with being able to travel the country that would be an amazing achievement. We still have many places we would like to experience, Italy being at the top of our list. It’s good to get different ideas for food from a cultural aspect and adapt that to our own style of cooking to ensure our products stay unique.

We have talked about one day having our own restaurant combined with a fresh food deli but who knows what the future may bring. My own personal goal as a chef is to have a cook book published with all my recipes, so that I can share what I have done with others.

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9. Do you have any particularly favourite producers or retailers that you use regularly in your cooking?

Local sustainable food is very important to us. We are lucky to be in an area where there are so many good quality suppliers around.

10. What three words would you use to describe Hornbrook Kitchen?

Rustic/Smoky/Passionate

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Author: Chris

He may look very complicated, but he is in fact very simple. He runs on sausages and beer. Co-founder of Eating Exeter. Librarian at Exeter College.

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