Simon Pitney-Baxter's honest menu at the Red Lyon at Hurley, Maidenhead
PUBLISHED: 10:32 04 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:06 20 February 2013
There's nothing pretentious about Simon Pitney-Baxter's honest menu at the Red Lyon at Hurley, and that's just the way he likes it...
Which dish on your current menu do you most enjoy preparing and why?
This time of year is all about hearty, warming pub grub. Braised pork belly, shoulder of lamb, pork cheeks and, of course, game, all feature and sell really well on our menus. It takes a lot more skill to cook a piece of meat carefully for hours and refine the sauce than to cook a steak. I love shoulder of lamb, both preparing and cooking it and then watching the empty plate return to the kitchen.
Which chef do you most admire?
Gordon Ramsay. I had the privilege of working at Amaryllis in its prime at the beginning and I learnt so much about precision. It helped me to get into other Michelin-starred kitchens on the back of my experiences there and probably gave me some of the fire in my belly I still have today.
How do you relax?
Since taking on the Red Lyon I barely ever do, we have been so busy my brain never switches off! Thanks to my loyal team, I now have a bit more of an opportunity to go out and see what other people are doing. Eating out is the best way for me to relax; I could do it every day.
What is your earliest memory of a taste or a meal?
I was 15 years old and given Stilton to taste for the first time by the sous chef in the first restaurant I trained in. Of course I hated it. An hour later he asked me to try it again. Forget what you didnt like the first time and now appreciate the creaminess of it, he said. I did and so began my journey into food.
Who is your customer from hell?
The know-it -alls: those who think they know everything about food, wine and service, yet have never done a day in the trade, but have six books by Delia.
What do you like most about your restaurant?
A good pub should be about relaxation. People come here to relax, whether its with a bottle of wine or through a meal with their partner or as a whole family. I want every one of my customers to leave here feeling better than they did when they walked through the door. Thats what I strive to achieve with my team every day and I know through the comments we get back and the regular smiling faces that we are on the right track.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in a career in cooking?
I would tell them to start in the toughest, hardest and best kitchens they could get into. Learn everything you can, maybe for a year or so and then go to the next toughest. I went to college for two years and wasted my time. You can only learn to cook by cooking, not reading about it. I have been fortunate enough to have worked in some great kitchens, and even though I am now in the position where I train others, I could not have done it without everything I had been taught.
Red Lyon, Henley Road, Hurley, Maidenhead, SL6 5LH.
Tel: 01628 823558