We take a quick look into the life of Kikkoman Masters 2018 finalist Dan Graham.
Name: Dan Graham
Current Restaurant: Private Chef, Owner of ‘At the Dinner Party’ by Dan Graham
Previous Restaurants: The Talbot Hotel, The Ebury, Nomura, Le Gavroche, Matfen Hall Hotel, Bonds restaurant.
Hometown: Live in - Malton, North Yorkshire. Originally from - Haltwhistle, Northumberland
Favourite Hobbies: Snowboarding, Football, Scuba Diving, Fishing, Gardening
Favourite Cookbook: Sauces by Michel Roux
Favourite Kitchen Gadget: Microplane Grater or Thermomix
Kikkoman Masters Dishes -
Starter: Tuna tartar with sushi rice, soy, sesame & ginger dressing, wasabi mayo, radish
Main: Teriyaki glazed salt aged Yorkshire duck breast, mushroom ketchup, teriyaki shiitakes, wild rice
What is your first food memory: Picking brambles/blackberries with my Grandma as a kid then turning them into a crumble for my Grandads lunch, I remember standing on a chair in the kitchen, so I could see the dial on the weighing scales.
Did you grow up in a cooking family? Not really no, my gran baked a lot which is what got me into cooking at a young age but growing up my parents both worked full time and we tended to live on simple freezer food. Although my dad knocks up a cracking Sunday roast and a killer BBQ.
Who influenced your cooking the most: This is a hard question as I’ve had so many people influence me through the years, however one stands out, my old head chef from Matfen Hall Hotel Phillip Hall, I was his sous chef and he had me at a time in my career where I thought I had maybe chosen the wrong path and was unsure if I wanted to carry on been a chef, something I think every chef feels at some point in their career. He taught me, supported me, and kept me under his wing and made me realise that actually I did want to carry on, he made me believe in myself and my abilities, and he was the chef that pushed me to do MasterChef the professionals where I finished runner up. Although I have personally worked hard to get where I am now, I owe a lot of it to chef Phil.
Why did you become a chef? I think this is most likely the most common answer when a chef is asked this question, I did terrible at school, having never been very academic. Through school I worked as a kitchen porter and was fascinated by the chefs and the atmosphere of the kitchen, I decided to go to catering college and found that I excelled in that environment, from there I’ve never looked back.
Where did you train? I did My NVQ 2 and 3 at Carlisle college before going to a big hotel called Slayley Hall Hotel where I carried on training under the Executive chef Tony Binks
What did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a pilot in the RAF but didn’t have the brains for that.
Who are your favourite chefs? Having worked for the family I have to say the Roux family, but also I really like Jason Atherton his food is some of the best I have ever eaten.
Other than your restaurant, what is your favourite restaurant? One of best meals I’ve had in recent years was at the Black Swan in Oldstead where Tommy Banks is the chef, and it just so happens to be less than 30mins from my house which is a bonus.
What music do you enjoy cooking to: Wow this could sound terrible, I have a rather eclectic taste in music, I’ll go from listening to The Greatest Showman soundtrack to listening to Kerrang radio, it totally depends on my mood at the time, and as a chef my moods change a lot…
What was the last book you read? Munich by Robert Harris
What is your favourite ingredient (apart from Kikkoman Soy Sauce): Simply Garlic
What do you think is the next food trend: Its always hard to predict what this will be, at the moment it seems to be small plates and street food, however over the last few months I have had a lot of customers who having been asking for the more classic French style of cooking so I think we may end up coming full circle and the old classics being the new trends again.
What food is your guilty pleasure? Byron Burgers
Is there one food you really don’t like? I eat most foods but I’m not a fan of Kidneys, I think it’s the smell more than anything.
Worst kitchen nightmare? The electric going off halfway through a busy evening service, and finished the shift using only the gas under the light of spotlights hooked up to car batteries.
Most memorable meal? While living in France in 2007 my wife and I went to a little restaurant in the Savoie region called L’etable d’Alian with-in La ferme De l’Adroit. The food was only simple French cuisine things like, fondue, raclette, cured meats. But it was the setting that has always stuck with me. The restaurant was in the centre of the property with other room wrapped around it, each wall in the restaurant had windows looking into the rooms next door, to one side there was the barn where the dairy cows lived, the other side was a cheese making room then the last side was a cheese maturing room, so while you were sat enjoying your raclette with local curd meats you could actually see and watch the cheese being produce. It was a really lovely experience.
Last meal on earth? Medium/rare ribeye steak with chips and peppercorn sauce followed by Apple tart tatin, salted caramel & calvados crème fraiche.