PUBLISHED: 16:21 19 March 2012 | UPDATED: 21:10 20 February 2013
Meet Gary Parsons, the Commissioning Chef at Colten Care
Name: Gary Parsons
Job: Commissioning Chef
Company: Colten Care, which opened its seventh Hampshire care home, St Catherines View in Winchester, in spring 2012
Q. Who or what switched you onto cooking?
A. My mother. She was always cooking and baking and was very good in the kitchen.
Q. What is your earliest memory of a taste or a meal?
A. My dad teaching me how to make and cook lava bread, then eating it. The Welsh name for lava bread is bara lawr and it is made from the seaweed called porphyra umilicalis.
Q. Which chef do you most admire?
A. Heston Blumenthal. I think he is a food genius.
Q. In what way does your food reflect your personality?
A. Vibrant, cheeky, hot n spicy and contented.
Q. What is your favourite ingredient?
A. I love coriander and cumin but there are so many more.
Q. What is your favourite kitchen utensil?
A. It has to be my Rational cooker.
Q. Tell us about a kitchen disaster or culinary disaster
A. I lost the tip of my finger on the bacon slicer so my advice is always to use safety gear and adhere to safety regulations.
Q. What is your favourite cheese?
A. Dorset Blue Vinney and Cropwell Bishop Date and Orange White Stilton.
Q. What is your favourite tipple?
A. For champagne I choose Krug Grande Cuvee or Louis Roederer Cristal. For reds I go for Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape. When Im having a beer with the lads Ill have a Peroni or a Cobra.
Q. Describe your signature dish
A. Pan fried scallops in a chanterelle, garlic and white wine sauce served on a sundried tomato focaccia.
Q. Who did you train under and what did they teach you that youll never forget?
A. I trained with the army catering corps. They taught me to always do your best and be organised.
Q. How do you relax?
I love going out with my wife Lorna to good restaurants and trying new things to eat. It gives us new ideas. I also play golf and go fishing.
Q. What advice would you give to anyone interested in a career in cooking?
A. Its hard work with long, unsociable hours but it is very pleasant and rewarding when you have customers offering compliments to the chef, saying the meal was absolutely fantastic or inviting you to go out and have a glass of wine with them. So determination is needed and if you get knocked down, get back up and dont give up. That way you should become a good chef if not a great one.
Q. Whats your most memorable meal?
A. It has to be my wedding day. Lorna and I got married in Las Vegas two years ago and we went to the MGM Grand for our wedding meal. With us was Lornas maid of honour Alex Davitt and my best man Alexs dad and our boss at Colten Care Fergus Davitt.