Executive Head Chef Chris Allison is an integral part of the family here at Ellingham Hall, and celebrates his 9 year work anniversary next month . We caught up with him to chat about his interesting career, in between prepping and serving his usual high quality and delicious food.
When did you start your career as a chef?
I left school at 16 and trained as a baker at Carrick’s in Cowgate. I then went on to the Highlander in Belsay and then to train at college. My full training finished at the Gosforth Park Hotel.
What attracted you to baking?
I studied home economics for GCSE, and a baker came into school and it interested me because it’s a more of a science than general cooking. I got quite excited about baking at this point!
What did you bake?
I started on confectionery, such as apple turnovers, muffins and the like and then learned to bake all the other products.
What is your food philosophy?
The fresher the ingredients the better the product!
Who influences you?
It would be mainly chefs, such as Marco Pierre White, Pierre Koffman and Tom Kitchin.
What is your signature dish?
That would be braised shin of beef, roasted fillet of beef with fondant potatoes, buttered spinach and a béarnaise sauce. It’s a very popular choice with our wedding couples too.
What is your favourite meal at home?
We do a lot of barbecuing, even in the winter. I tend to go outside and cook whatever the weather. Lamb koftas are a favourite in our house.
Are there any stories about your career that stand out?
My home economics teacher telling me I wouldn’t make it as a chef! I also fondly remember winning two rosettes in my post at Newcastle.
Have you cooked for anyone famous?
I have cooked for the Queen at Alnwick Castle which was a real honour! I’ve also cooked for celebrity duo Ant and Dec, Lord Percy and at my last job I arranged a meal for a wedding party for the Princess of Jordan.
What’s your advice to anyone thinking of being a chef?
Don’t go to college first. It’s better to go somewhere to work to learn and go to college on day release and get your qualifications. You will be learning all about the business and you’ll also have a wider experience to help you get your first job.