Luke Ames – Sous Chef @ The Leaping Hare, Wyken Vineyards
What made you want to join the catering industry?
I’ve always loved food; I used to cook for my family a lot and studied food technology at school with no real intention of using it later in life. It was just fun! After I had finished school, I landed a job washing up in a local pub and saw the chefs in action and looked up to them. I was keen to get involved so gradually worked through the ranks and within four years found myself cooking in the best restaurant in Suffolk (The Bildeston Crown).
Cheffing is a hard and stressful line of work. How do you cope with the stresses of this job?
Lots and LOTS of drugs! I joke, it’s just a lifestyle you get used to, and if you love your craft, you’ll adapt your life to suit. I think in kitchens it’s essential to have a mix of respect, positive attitude and discipline with a few laughs and a bit of fun to keep the morale up.
What’s the best and worst thing you’ve eaten?
The worst thing I ever ate was a lambs brain. It was like eating a blancmange made from 2p coins. The best thing I’ve ever eaten was a burrito at the street food market in Camden. 1) because it was fucking banging and 2) because the place was buzzing, it just made it ten times better.
Tuna & Sweetcorn
Luke: The dish is “tuna and sweetcorn” simply named and simply cooked.
We sear the tuna very quickly and glaze it in a soy and honey caramel. We put it on a sweetcorn salsa made with the juice from the sweetcorn, vinegar and sugar. We also serve a black garlic (fermented garlic) mayonnaise and a squid ink rice cracker which is seasoned with a wasabi powder/salt mix. The idea is that you scoop up everything with the cracker, making it fun and informal.
The stupidest thing I’ve ever seen was something I did recently. I was boiling tins of condensed milk to make toffee and the pan boiled dry despite me checking it every 15 minutes and 10 minutes into lunch service the fucking thing exploded HARD. Covered the kitchen in caramel. It was insane; no other words can describe it.
Hungry yet? Go book a table now at Wyken Vineyards today and let Luke satisfy your tastebuds!
Words by Elliott Stubbings