In previous episodes of Getting to Know, I have offered a glimpse into the world of different word-smiths; however, this time, I’ve opted for a slightly different flavour (pardon the pun).
Creativity comes in many forms, which is why I caught up with Ronnie Murray, Head Chef at HIX Group, to find out more about what goes on in the kitchen, as well as in his mind…
When did you first realise that you had a flair for cooking?
I’m not sure I realised that I had a flair, but my earliest memory is being in my grandmother’s kitchen when I was a very small child, pretending to make pasta. This involved weighing out dried pasta on old-fashioned scales, tipping it into a pan and pretending to cook it. I’m sure I was in my grandmother’s way, but she never complained.
Did you have a signature dish or two in the early days?
When I was about 14 or 15 I won a local cooking competition by whipping up a tarragon chicken dish – that was as close as I came to a signature dish back then and I’m pretty sure that neither my Mum or my Dad have eaten tarragon chicken since. Nowadays, I’m well known at HIX for Ronnie’s Apple Pie, which features on most of the restaurants menus.
Where did you grow up and the area have any effect on your love for food?
I grew up in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire – a place famous for the duck. I worked at Waddesdon Manor, which is a National Trust property, formerly owned by the Rothchild family, who had a particular passion for old menus and recipes. They have a world-famous dessert table set up in one of the rooms, which now serves as a museum piece. This is where I picked up my passion for old recipe books, as well as my love for re-creating lost and forgotten dishes.
Recently you took part in Scope’s End the Awkward campaign. How did you find the experience and were there any ‘awkward moments’ while you were making the film?
Scope is a fantastic charity and I am still very much involved in their awareness work; to be honest, the most awkward questions I’ve been asked in my life have been by representatives from the charity. This is mainly because so far in my life, I have been fortunate enough to I’ve encounter people who have judged me by my personality and ability, rather than my appearance. Having said that, I have realised that this isn’t the case for everybody, which is a real shame
Next time at Scope, it’s going to be even more awkward – as their latest campaign is all about sex and disability.
You must have seen all sorts of weird and wonderful things during your career. What’s the funniest or most bizarre thing you’ve ever encountered in the kitchen?
Yes, over the years I’ve seen lots of odd things to say the least. I once had a chap who worked for me who didn’t realise that an egg came from a chicken’s bottom and upon making this discovery, he refused to handle them ever again.
What would you say has been the proudest moment in your culinary career so far?
It’s exceptionally difficult to put my finger on a specific moment, but I one of my biggest satisfactions is seeing people who have trained with me over the years go on to have great careers themselves. Basically, the most important thing in any kitchen is the team.
Is there anything culinary related (like a particular food, fad or trend) that gets your goat?
Water baths, foams, gels, swipes on plates all get my goat – but above all, food that isn’t served on a plate really winds me up. I mean, how can you eat gravy from a roof tile?
You are Group Head Chef at HIX. What’s a typical working day like in the life of Ronnie Murray (if there is such a thing)?
No two days are ever the same. That’s what makes it so interesting.
And last but by no means least, what things have you got lined up for the not so distant future?
An appearance on a well-known TV cookery show that I am not allowed to talk about! Haha.
To find keep up with Ronnie and his ongoing culinary adventures, you can follow him on Twitter.
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