By Annalisa D’Alessio
World Food Tour caught up with Andrew Du Bourg, the executive chef at the fine dining restaurant, The Elderflower, which is located in the New Forest. Born in Yorkshire and educated in South Africa and Buckinghamshire, Andrew’s passions have always revolved around food. He opened The Elderflower in March 2014 with his wife, Marjolaine; the team have been making waves in the restaurant business ever since.
Question: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the food business?
Andrew Du Bourg: Food has always been a big part of my life. From a young age I grew my own vegetables with the help of my mum. I first got the passion for cooking when I would help either my mum or my grandmother bake. It was the anticipation of licking out the bowl and getting to try the finished product.
Q: What would you have been if you hadn’t been a chef?
ADB: I’ve always had this burning desire to succeed in life. I have been heavily influenced by film in terms of a career. This was my only insight into what it was like in curtain careers. By the later stages of my high school years, I wanted to be a stock broker.
I applied for a two-week work experience to go to the City and get a good insight into what is involved. But what I got was two weeks of data inputting at a local accountants’, not the insight I was expecting.
Q: What is your favourite dish to cook?
ADB: If I was wanting to impress the wife or treat her for a special occasion, then I would start with oysters, followed by Côte de Boeuf, confit shallot, watercress and smoked bone marrow salad, truffle jus.
Q: What are the five ingredients you always keep in your fridge?
ADB: Apple glaze, squid ink, dairy, plankton and violet mustard.
Q: What’s your go-to restaurant in London and why?
ADB: The Wolseley. I think it’s a fantastic place. Always buzzing, it doesn’t matter what time of day it is, you can get a meal. The room itself is also very impressive!
Q: Who are your inspirations, both in and out of the kitchen?
ADB: My parents have played a huge role in making me the man I am today. I respect and aspire to achieve the lifestyle that they live. With regards to my career, I have been lucky enough to have worked with some great chefs. The first one I would like to mention is Chef David Bolland, once head lecturer for the RACA Specialised Chef Course. He was the man who helped to mould some of the industry’s top chefs into the chefs they are today. So, big thanks.
The next great man to mention is Derek Quelch (former Executive Chef of the Goring Hotel). He helped to make me the chef I am today. I learnt a great grounding and how to cook properly.
Phil Howard opened the door to a world I had only dreamt of, what it was like to be the best. To work with the best ingredients available and prepared in a way that was exciting as well as respectful of the incredible ingredients. He led by example, I like to think that I implement that in my style of leadership today.
Another chef that has had a big influence on me is Pascal Aussignac. At Club Gascon I was at my happiest and learnt to think outside the box. Due to his own training, he had a style that no one else had in the UK.
Q: Who is your chef idol?
ADB: Peter Gilmore, Quay Australia. His food is just stunning! It’s beautiful to look at and he has great respect for his products.
Q: Can you tell us about a particularly memorable moment in your career?
ADB: Opening my own restaurant back in March 2014 would have to be at the top. The feeling of achievement, knowing that I had achieved a lifelong dream of owning my own restaurant, completely self-financed through a lot of sacrifices was truly amazing.
Q: You can only live on one cuisine for the rest of your life. Which one would it be?
ADB: BBQ—it’s a very social way of eating. It’s very versatile in the way that anything goes. It can be healthy or not, depending on the rubs and marinades you use.
Q: What is your favourite food fad and why?
ADB: Fondue! Again, it’s a very sociable way to eat with friends and family and a lot of fun.
Q: What’s your best-kept cooking secret or tip?
ADB: If I told you it wouldn’t be a best-kept secret!
Picking crab in the walking fridge with a UV Light—the shell illuminates and you don’t mush up the flesh.
Q: Do you have any future predictions for the food industry?
ADB: I don’t want to go down the negative route. So, my positive predictions are that we will see more restaurants listening and being able to adapt their menus to cater for the growing list of allergies and dietary requirements. I believe that consumers will want a more social environment in which to escape their day to day woes.
Q: Do you have any exciting plans and projects coming up in the future?
ADB: We are looking to reform our restaurant offering over 2018. With financial uncertainty looming we are looking to make our restaurant more of a hybrid. We’re looking into launching a cat & dog menu and perhaps a range of gourmet hot dogs which will consist of meat, fish and vegetarian options. We will be running this alongside this our bespoke tasting menu offering.