MEET THE CHEF: Craig Lemmon is the Head Chef and Restaurant Manager at the Vivacity Riverside Restaurant, housed within Peterborough’s Key Theatre. Much-travelled and experienced chef Craig has been in charge at the pretty, glass fronted establishment, overlooking the River Nene, since last October, and has gradually stamped his mark on the menus.
Where did it all begin - how did you get into the business?
It all began for me at the age of 14 at the Falcon Hotel in Whittlesey, working after school and weekends washing dishes, waiting on tables and cleaning sacks full of mussels!
What were your ambitions then - and now?
My ambition then was to stay out of trouble and work hard! Now, I want to make people happy with the food I cook.
Who have been your influences?
Over the years, I have been influences by various different people. John Campbell at the Vineyard being one of them and also my wife, who is a fabulous cook.
How did you come to be at the Riverside - where have you worked previously?
I came to be at the Vivacity Riverside Restaurant after leaving the Queen’s Head in Nassington where I was head chef for two years. Before that I had worked at Clarkes in Peterborough and various Michelin star restaurants like the Vineyard in Berkshire, the Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge and Hambleton Hall in Rutland.
How important is the team around you? Is recruitment difficult?
The team I create around me is very important and every single person we employ at the Riverside Restaurant is very important in the running and growing of the business.
Recruitment has been very challenging in the last few years in the catering trade generally as its very difficult to find the perfect people with the passion and knowledge.
What can people expect from your menus?
My menu focuses on locality of suppliers, seasonality of ingredients and diversity of dishes.
What was the first dish you put on a menu - and what is the most recent?
The first dish I ever made and put on my menu was smoked sea eel, Jersey Royal potato and pancetta salad with pickled russet apple jelly.
The most recent dish I have added to my repertoire is a selection of Riverside home made sushi!
Favourite dish on the menu at the moment - and why?
My favourite dish on the menu at the moment is home-smoked pollack with bubble and squeak, poached egg and mustard sauce. The reason is because I smoke the pollack myself - it’s delicate and simple.
What gives you most pleasure working in a restaurant?
The most pleasure I get from working in a restaurant is the team work and seeing customers leave happy.