Gary Fisher, head chef at Macdonald Leeming House

Essential ingredients

For me, there are certain ingredients that are essential for added flavour. Salt, pepper, lemon, and vinegars are essential seasonings to bring out the best in a wide variety of different foods. Even a piece of foie gras would be nothing without some delicious seasoning and sherry vinegar to enhance the rich flavours. Macdonald Hotels is renowned for sourcing organic suppliers for our vegetables and dairy products where possible too, which I think is key for making a dish special.

First kitchen worked in

I started my career at The Swallow Hotel in Peterborough and worked in the larder section where my journey in cuisine began.

First dish I prepared

I distinctly remember fanning a lot of melons during my time at The Swallow Hotel and making chicken liver parfait. The first proper dish I ever cooked was a nice steak Dianne with broccoli and sautéed potatoes.

Signature dish

My signature dish is a delicious wild garlic and truffle risotto with toasted pine nuts for added texture. It comes with an egg yolk fritter and a tomato dressing and I really enjoy making it.

Food philosophy

For me, it’s all about simple and subtle combinations and good seasoning to really bring a brilliant dish together. A fantastic dish is more about good technique and an understanding of seasoning to bring about a great mix of flavours.

Biggest kitchen disaster

The biggest disaster I’ve ever had to deal with in my career was when the kitchen ran out of cooked chicken breasts and we had to finish a wedding breakfast for 100 guests. We had to cook more last minute and it was very frantic. I learned a great deal about the culinary industry that day.

My favourite chef

I have a lot of respect for Marco Pierre White, the British celebrity chef, restaurateur and television personality. He is noted for his contributions to contemporary international cuisine and his philosophy and self-motivation is something that inspires me. He was the first English chef to achieve Michelin stars so I would say he is my favourite chef.

My biggest influence

My very first influences in the industry were when I worked at Hartwell House and also at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxford with Raymond Blanc. However, in more recent years I have learned a great deal from chefs that I have worked for and from those who have worked for me.

My favourite meal

I really enjoy eating foods that I don’t often get to make myself while at work. My favourites are Thai and Indian foods because they are so rich in flavour and use such a nice combination of spices.