Feature – Chewing The Fat – Semone Bonner
In the second of our new monthly series, Chewing The Fat, we’ve donned our aprons and headed on through the swinging door into the kitchen in order to get up close and personal with some of Brighton and Hove’s top chefs. This month we chatted to Semone Bonner, head chef of The Ginger Pig in Hove and one third of pop-up group The Set.
Tell us about your background
Other than a brief spell of three years cooking in both France and Greece, I have always been a chef in Brighton. After ﬁnishing my catering qualiﬁcations at what is now City College Brighton and Hove, I was shaped in my early years as a chef at Brighton’s now-gone food institute One Paston Place before moving on to cook at some of Brighton’s other ﬁnest restaurants.
What inspires you?
I get inspired by all things around me, just going into a shop to grab a pastry might make me want to recreate or work with the ﬂavours that I have just tasted. The seasons also direct my inspiration. Looking around seeing what’s growing at this time of year, deep into game season with the cold weather closing in, what’s not to get inspired by? Or, with Halloween, it’s easy to be inspired to want to create a spooky 10-course tasting menu complete with horror and fun.
What’s your favourite food memory?
My favourite food memory is actually very recent. It would have to be the ﬁrst service we delivered as a pop-up restaurant company. When we started The Set, we had no idea where it would go and even if people would take to us and what we do.
Interactive and playful food is not to everyone’s taste, but when we delivered that ﬁrst service and to see the reception and response to what we had just delivered, it was priceless. It’s a great food memory because we knew then that we were on to something, and it was so much fun.
What are your favourite ingredients and cooking techniques?
I really enjoy making food that creates questions and excitement. Maltodextrin is a product now being used far more extensively in the modern kitchen and it’s one of my favourite tools. It allows us to turn any fat-based product into a powder that then turns back to its original form on your tongue. For example, a white powder made that you pop in your mouth and then in an instant, smooth peanut butter! Brilliant.
Where do you see yourself in ﬁve years’ time?
As long as I’m still cooking be have a roof over my head, I will be happy. I guess the dream is to have my own restaurant or pop-up company in the future. But who knows what’s around the corner?
Sum up your cooking style in three words?
Interactive, seasonal, fun.
Words by Claire Beveridge
Originally printed in the Brighton & Hove Independent Friday 31st October 2014