An interview with The Fishpool Inn's Head Chef, Mark Brooks
He opened The Pheasant and The Bear’s Paw.....now Mark Brooks is opening The Fishpool Inn as Head Chef and we can’t wait to see his success continue and creativity flourish. After 10 years with Nelson Hotels, we thought you might want to know a bit more about the man who likes to stay in the kitchen and out of the limelight.
When did you first realise you had a passion for cooking?
It was during my first proper part time job as a pot washer in a hotel in Shrewsbury where I was amazed at how the Chefs put dishes together with such apparent ease. Eventually I was given the opportunity to work a Sunday lunch shift alongside the Chefs doing basic prep work which then led to me running the veg section followed by the larder with little assistance. I was very keen to be given a full time position and when one became available the Head Chef was happy to take me on as an apprentice.
What has been your biggest professional achievement to date?
I have worked for Nelson Hotels for over 10 years now and in that time I have had the privilege to open not only The Pheasant Inn as Head Chef, but also The Bear’s Paw. I feel very proud to have earned and retained trust from the Nelson family and as a result be chosen as Head Chef for this new venture.
Another recent achievement of mine was when The Bear’s Paw was awarded a prestigious AA Rosette in 2011, and then of course retaining the Rosette to date.
Each of the Nelson Hotels’ properties has their own unique elements which makes them special, what do you think gives The Fishpool Inn its individual character?
Thanks to the state of the art Inka charcoal oven and specialist wood-burning oven within our open display kitchen, The Fishpool Inn will offer a completely different style of cookery. The rest of the kitchen is fitted out with induction stoves making it eco-friendly which will help reduce the carbon footprint a kitchen of a similar size would produce. With respect to the interior design, not really my strong point but I do know that some local favourite pastimes including hunting, polo and fishing have been incorporated into the design with certain sections of the Inn themed accordingly.
Where did you grow up?
Just on the outskirts of Cardiff in Rumney, when I’d just turned 16 the family then moved to a little village on the outskirts of Shrewsbury.
What are your favourite ingredients?
I could not live without salt and pepper. Without these essential seasonings any savoury dish would be bland.
What is your signature dish?
I wouldn’t say I have an actual signature dish as I’m always taking on new ideas and experimenting. Ask me that one again when I’ve retired!
If you could cook for anybody, who would it be and what would you cook?
I’d like to cook for my first Head Chef as he’s the one who originally helped me to become the Chef I am today. I’d leave the ‘what’ to him as he was always one to challenge my abilities and I’d relish the opportunity to show him how far I’ve come.