We welcome Chris to the Free Rangers' team in the crucial role of Chef. He takes over from the wonderful Valerie.
He has been with us for a couple of month's now but here's a chance to get to know a little more about him.
1) What is your earliest memory of cooking?
It has to be trying to recreate Granny's apple pie. No-one can ever better their granny's pudding.
2) What is your favourite meal to cook outside?
Living in Botswana it was a barbeque meal or brai as it's called in southern Africa. This is particularly meat orientated. But I always hung out with the ladies and children making the salads, often freshly picked from my garden. Eventually one of the most dominant males admitted it was the salads that made the brai and given that I was in charge of making the salads...that made me very happy. If we were in the bushes we would make bread, cakes, even lasagne in pits using cast iron pots covered in hot coals.
3) What are the most adventurous ingredients you have cooked with?
There certainly has been a few but it was probably various venomous snakes while traveling in China in 1997. I didn't speak any Mandarin or Cantonese nor did anyone speak English. I had not intended to find myself in this situation, it was more thrusted upon me. This experience comprised of a sack of live snakes, a pair of blunt scissors and a kettle of boiling water. With a mix of erratic movement from both the snakes and I, I eventually prepared a meal.
Another tale I can recall was popping into the Barrow Boar (near Sparkford), they farmed their own boars but also bought in other meats like crocodile, ostrich and even locusts. If they are still around I intend to pop in one day soon in the hope to use something on the Free Rangers' menu, but fear not it won't be for the locusts!!!!
4) What made you choose to be a chef?
I was living in New Zealand, having dinner with friends. I was about to move to Wanaka in the south island so I could do a ski season. The topic came up as what work to do and everyone agreed at the table I should become a chef, and that was that. I soon became the Cafe Manager at the Nordic ski school 'Snow Farm' and also did the evening shift working opposite the head chef catering for the American Olympic Nordic Ski Team.
5) Why is food important to you?
Food is life. As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Look at a carrot, they slow down ageing, improve vision, promote healthier skin, prevent infection, heart disease, cancers and strokes, as well as cleansing the body and protecting teeth and gums. If you're reading this and thinking, 'My child doesn't eat carrots,' there are over 100 other species for them to try, so start experimenting!
Sadly though, I feel the food industry is in a shambles run by corporations who are not looking out for our health or wellbeing. We all live in such a fast paced life these days and buying what is convenient and not realising the costs to our health.
6) What do you think a good meal can achieve?
People travel for various reasons, I like to travel for food, there's no better way to understand a culture then to sit and have a meal with people from different backgrounds and try their delicacies with them. But now I'm back in the West Country I feel in heaven to be with friends with some slow cooked pork, apple pie for dessert, some local cheddars to finish off with and admittedly a bottle or two of French wine.
7) What do you hope to bring to Free Rangers with regards to food?
The main aspect would be to provide a balanced and nutritional diet to the children. Through my cooking I'd like to encourage them to try out a full range of foods as early a possible, getting their taste buds stimulated early with healthy meals. I'd like to make meal times fun and stress free for everyone. But whatever I make, I'm always looking at each recipe, each ingredient to adapt in some beneficial way.