Olivier Certain: Chef Interview
We were more than delighted to be able to interview Olivier Certain who is the head chef from Bamptons Oldest Country Pub, The Swan. He confided in us his passion for food and creating an exceptional dining experience, not only this but he showcased the hard work him and his team do day in and day out.
Olivier has been demonstrating his talent at ‘The Swan’ for the last two years, this has led the pub to be ranked in the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropubs which certainly cements his culinary excellence.
What process do you go through when preparing yourself for a busy dinner service?
‘The Swan can get extremely lively, especially dinner services. My sous chef and I stick to a strict food prep plan which we do after every lunch service which consists of, trimming the meat, portioning the fish and ensuring all ingredients are at a high quality. The hard work definitely goes on before service’
As head chef do you participate in dishes that are being put on the menu at The Swan?
‘My sous chef and I work very closely with Donna and Paul, the owners. We work with the seasons to try and change dishes accordingly, I’m always keen to get stuck in with thinking of creative dishes that can spice up the menu. With being a Traditional English Pub, we always make sure that our British best sellers are grounded on the menu. These being ‘Steak and Kidney Pie’ and ‘Fish and Chips!’
Who or what inspired you to start cooking?
‘I originally grew up in the South of France and gained an interested in fish cookery, I always travelled a lot to visit my dad or when I was working abroad. I was lucky enough to be able to try new and exciting food, being able to experience different food like that encouraged me to start creating dishes for myself. It helped a lot that my nan was a good cook, that’s most likely where I got my culinary skills from’
What traditional British dish is most favoured by you?
‘I have so many that I enjoy but my all time favourite must be ‘Bread and Butter Pudding’, I do put my very own twist on it by adding chocolate for the ultimate richness. If we are talking savoury dishes, I’m a pie lover which can’t really get anymore British’
What is your favourite dish to make from The Swan menu?
‘I love to cook most dishes; I prefer it when we add a new dish to menu as I approach it like it’s a challenge to perfect it. I’m always fond of making anything with fish as it looks easy, but if you get the timing wrong then you can overcook it at the flick of a switch’
We read that The Swans produce is sourced locally, do you pride yourself in being more sustainable?
‘Sustainabilty is all important for the pub, we get all our meat and fish from a local supplier and our veg comes from a local store which maintains the quality. I like to support the local businesses around us as they provide us with fresh ingredients that allow me to display my passion.
Finally, you won Best Chef in 2017. What do you think you did that year that showcased your passion and talent?
‘I challenged myself with different ingredients and food that I’d never attempted before and I cooked good food in a classical way. Since then I’ve continued to refine my playing skills, trying to focus on the food I’m not so good at and playing around with a range of culinary techniques. That’s the art of it.
We would like to thank Olivier Certain for giving us his time to talk about his journey in becoming a talented chef, and to also congratulate The Swan pub for being awarded the 20th position on the Top 50 Gastropubs in 2019. For more information...https://theswan.co/