CHEF Charlie Hodson
Restaurant/Café: Hodson & Co Deli & Cheese Room.
Location: In the heart of Norfolk, UK.
A lover of all things foodie and all things Norfolk, Chef Charlie has an enviable and infectious passion for this wonderful industry. With a broad and global contact book, here Charlie shares some of his thoughts as this month's Chef in the spotlight...
Chef Charlie at home in the kitchen in his favourite Capri Exec Coat
1. Your restaurant/business:
Hodson & Co Deli & Cheese Room in the heart of Norfolk. Owner of Charlie's Norfolk Food Heroes with an emphasis on all things food and drink in Norfolk.
2. Describe your kitchen:
Very new, very exciting and almost ready to open! The home of my award winning sausage rolls and scotch eggs.
3. Favourite Chef Works item and why?
Has to be my faithful Capri short sleeved, premium cotton chef coat. I've been wearing them without fail for 8 years now!
Chef Works uniforms ready for a recent NHS thank you event.
4. First job:
Haha .. that takes me back a little. My first kitchen experience was on veg prep in London, where I remember darkness in the mornings and darkness when I finished service. Looking back it was the beginning of an amazing life journey. It was also the start of my love affair with the stoves and however hard a day or week can seem, I would not change anything.
5. Favourite cookbook:
Classic Koffmann - 50 Years a Chef. I just love how the book encapsulates a chefs life.... working hard and a few of the right ingredients... as chefs we always need a little luck!
6. Your awards:
Awarded two rosettes in 2014. Winner of the Sausage Roll Off at the Red Lion, Barnes UK in 2017. Awarded Champion of Norfolk Food & Drink in 2014. Finalist in Visit Britain 2018.
7. Your cooking inspiration:
Chef Raymond Blanc, Chef Pierre Koffmann, Chef Eric Snaith of Titchwell Manor and Chef Michael Chamberlain from The Victoria at Holkham, Norfolk, UK.
At first you eat with your eyes.
8. Your speciality dish:
Pork Four Ways - Crispy Belly, Black Pudding Bon Bons (using the Fruit Pig Company - simply the best black pudding guys!), my own recipe Tomato Ketchup & pressed Maple syrup, Norfolk Bacon with pork supplied by my oldest mate and pig farmer, Tim Allen of Morley Farm.
9. Favourite dish to eat:
I'm a big curry fan and after an introduction to Hardeep Singh Kohli many years ago and a stonking good friendship, he shared his recipe for Vindaloo Pork, so that's my food heaven, served simply with traditional piccalilli, plain cumin rice and unleavened coriander bread.
10. Weirdest thing you ever ate:
Snake, but the least said about that the better!
11. Favourite ice cream flavour:
Nelson Gold and Vanilla (Nelson's Gold caramelised East Anglian Vodka I made for a very special lunch celebrating NHS Heroes).
12. Favourite drink:
Skylark. An amazing bottle of bubbles by wine make John Hemmant in the heart of Norfolk at Chet and Waveney Valley Vineyard.
Chef Charlie 're-hydrating' before a shift.
13. Favourite wine:
That's so easy... Winbirri award-winning Bacchus English wine. Another amazing vineyard in Norfolk by winemaker Lee Dyer.
14. Who would you most like to cook for?
For me; it would be our producers. Whether they have reared, grown, butchered or caught what they supply, it is a real joy to showcase the abundance of what the UK has to offer. When I can cook for those who have supplied the ingredients I love so very much, that's what makes my own cooking such a love affair.
15. And who would you least like to cook for?
I can't really answer that because there isn't anyone. I think food is about educating and sharing, especially in these times of hardship within our industry.
16. Favourite things to do when not cooking:
I love to be on the water, whether inland on our beautiful Norfolk broads or out at sea. Visiting unknown hidden gems in Norfolk - there is just so much here to see and accidentally stumbling across new foodie finds, spending my downtime with family and friends.
17. Your latest project:
Founder of Hodson & Co Deli & Cheese Room (opening soon) in Alysham, Norfolk. Bespoke dining on the Norfolk Broads (coming soon). Launching my Hodson & Co sauce range throughout East Anglia.
18. Favourite city?
I'm a real home boy so it will have to be Norwich in the UK!
19. Your greatest indulgence?
Hand made ice lollies from Dann's Dairy (www.dannsfarm.co.uk).
20. And finally, your all-time best culinary tip?
Always use your local butcher, greengrocer, fishmonger & deli. There is nothing better than a trip out to your local farm shop, supporting your local shops and buying direct when the produce is at the height of freshness and quality.
Photography: Joe Preston, Alan Palmer and Charlie Hodson.