Meet Richard, our new Sous Chef
"Fresh, inspiring and locally-sourced" those are our priorities here at Penally Abbey. From the very beginning, our aim has been to establish the Abbey as one of the best places to eat in Pembrokeshire, hence we genuinely value skilled, passionate staff and are delighted to have recently secured the services of Sous Chef Richard Simpson.
Richard joins us hot (or should that be cold?) from an extremely successful time in the French ski resort of Chamonix, working for the destination's number one-rated eatery, La Verte. Unsurprisingly for a Carmarthen lad, he has a great feel for the locally-sourced Welsh produce so important to our menus (take a look at a sample menu here). We caught up with Richard in our kitchen to find out what makes him tick...
Which produce do you like working with the most?
That’s a tricky one. I would probably say fish though, because we get such cracking, fresh seafood in Tenby. There are so many different types and ways you can cook fish too, and dishes such as the spiced monkfish with lime salsa, or hake with chorizo are terrific at the Abbey.
What's your favourite dish to cook at home?
Rack of lamb, with parsnip purée and meat stretcher would take some beating for a Sunday lunch.
For those who don’t know, what is “meat stretcher”?
Ah, now that is a bit of a Welsh classic. It’s a bit like Yorkshire pudding, typically made with suet, flour and rosemary. It comes from the old days when food - and especially meat - were expensive and the cook would make another dish to “stretch” the meal and make the meat go a bit further. Still very tasty today though.
Do you have any current favourite ingredients at Penally?
Yes, there are lots of exciting things going on with the menu. Black garlic is one interesting addition - it’s like the regular stuff, but with extra flavour, almost adding a hint of licorice. I also use black pudding a lot. Very underrated and it’s a shame most people only have it with breakfast, because it goes fantastically with scallops. I’ve also recently discovered that a beef black pudding also exists. There could be some interesting possibilities?
Have you ever cooked anything really strange or unusual?
That depends what you call strange. The first time I cooked a whole pig was quite eye-opening, working for Mark Hix's in London. A lot of people are fussy these days, but offal can be great too. Pig or ox cheeks are delicious, for example. I’m definitely a believer in not knocking something before you’ve tried it.
What do you enjoy when not cooking?
I enjoy snowboarding, which is probably how I ended up working in France. I’m also a big sports fan, whether it’s the Welsh rugby team or watching Arsenal (there is an audible tutting in the kitchen).
Many thanks Richard, like our diners at Penally, we cannot wait to taste your next creations!