Meet The Chef: From pot washer to 24 years of successful high end dining
N o one says owning and running a restaurant is easy, perhaps that's why there is such a high rate of opening and sadly, closing. So to keep a high end restaurant successful for the best part of a quarter of a century is some achievement indeed. Andrew Corrick became Chef Patron of The Cherry House at Werrington in 1994 and continues to cook 'fine British with a nod to classic French' at the 400 year old Grade II listed cottage with Cromwellian links.
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN - HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE BUSINESS?
I was still at school when I started the glamorous job of pot washer at The Westcliff Hotel in Sidmouth, Devon. Before going on to college in Exeter I had gained some valuable experience, particularly in the pastry section.
WHAT WERE YOUR AMBITIONS THEN - AND NOW?
I never set out to own a restaurant that’s for sure, I just wanted to improve as a chef and cook very, very good food for people. I think it was the politics of business, in particular large hotel groups that steered me towards going solo. These days I want to ensure we maintain the excellent reputation we enjoy at The Cherry House; I would rather have a restaurant consistently full of happy diners than awards and accolades on the walls.
WHO HAVE BEEN YOUR INFLUENCES?
Having enjoyed my time in a number of high profile restaurants working with talented teams, I would say that most of the Head Chefs I worked under taught me something I still rely upon today.
Two Head Chefs stand out though, Roger Chant at The Carlton and John Insley at The Hyde Park Hotel.
HOW DID YOU COME TO BE IN PETERBOROUGH?
Via Devon, Dorset and London! In the end it was family that brought me to Peterborough having enjoyed some great but tiring times in kitchens across the south of England, including The Hyde Park Hotel, The Norfolk in South Kensington, Bracewells at The Park Lane and learning the nouvelle cuisine of Frederick’s in Islington, where a Monday lunchtime service would be considered quiet at 70 covers, and where every evening would mean cooking for 170 of London’s very well-heeled.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE TEAM AROUND YOU? IS RECRUITMENT DIFFICULT?
Every restaurateur will tell you their team is fundamental to the success of the business.
People remember the dishes they ate and the quality of service they received. The tiniest of slip-ups gets remembered, particularly in restaurants carrying a high weight of expectation.
As for recruitment, getting people isn’t an issue; it’s getting the right people, on both sides of the pass.
WHAT CAN PEOPLE EXPECT FROM YOUR MENUS?
Freshness, quality ingredients and expert preparation and cooking. We hope “fine British with a nod to classic French” really does sum us up!
WHAT WAS THE FIRST DISH YOU PUT ON A MENU - AND WHAT IS THE MOST RECENT?
One of the dishes to appear on the first menu after taking over The Cherry House was tournedo of British beef fillet, topped with a Roquefort cheese soufflé, and it still makes a regular return appearance today.
Most recently we have been showcasing great seasonal asparagus and we are of course into Jersey Royal season too.
YOUR FAVOURITE DISH ON THE MENU AT THE MOMENT - AND WHY?
At the time of writing this, the sautéed supreme of guinea fowl is very good indeed, but for sheer simplicity I would say the grilled fillet of salmon on crushed new Jersey potatoes with a chive butter sauce, it just ticks the boxes for light and fresh.
WHAT GIVES YOU MOST PLEASURE WORKING IN A RESTAURANT?
I like seeing people enjoying our food and attentive service, leaving with a smile on their face to return again and again.
More in the Meet The Chef series: LEE CLARKE