Feature – Chewing The Fat – Jeremy Ashpool
For the third instalment of our monthly Chewing The Fat series, we are privileged to chat with Jeremy Ashpool, executive chef and proprietor of one of Sussex’s finest restaurants: Jeremy’s.
Nestled away in the gorgeous location of Borde Hill Gardens, the award-winning Jeremy’s was been wowing Brighton and beyond with their locally sourced modern cuisine.
Jeremy talks to us about his inspirations, memories and gives us a great insight to what makes his kitchen one of the best-loved in Sussex.
Tell us about your background…
As a self-trained former beach-bum, DJ and bar manager, I found creativity through cooking. I saw service as a kind of performance that got my adrenalin going. It’s a natural high and I still experience it after 35 years in kitchens.
What inspires you?
My godmother’s Sunday roast chicken, aromas that wafted thyme and lemon as we entered her house. My mum was a good cook, too – especially for days when food was generally considered as pretty dull. Marco White was a god among chefs in the 1980s – but, sadly, more of a fallen angel now.
What is your favourite food memory?
My wife, Vera, inspires me a lot because she never tires of looking up new recipes and trying them in her beautiful café, Café Elvira, next door to the main restaurant. Vera especially taught me about flavour. I love seafood: squid, oysters, crab and langoustine – if we can afford the best. In summer, I love cooking over an open fire and BBQ.
What are your favourite ingredients and cooking techniques?
We use smokers a lot and recently have enjoyed a renaissance in regard to more modern techniques, thanks to working with Jimmy Gray, the head chef. We bought water baths, a dehydrator and thermomix, and so on. I love the new and young approach to food, it is great to see how today’s generation of chefs are moving forward.
Ultimately, it’s flavour that counts and that’s why Jimmy and I have such a good working relationship. His background – working with a classically-trained dad and then going to Westminster College – gives him a grounded base for developing his own take on dishes.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
In five years, my ideal scenario would be cooking sardines on a beach somewhere while Jimmy has grown the company with our son, Daniel, in a direction that makes them both happy and successful.
Jeremy’s Restaurant, Borde Hill Gardens, Haywards Heath, RH16 1XP
Words by Claire Beveridge
Originally printed in the Brighton and Hove Independent 12th December 2014
Featured image by James Boardman