Flash-grilled Paul Foster

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Paul Foster Salt

Related tags Chefs Fine dining

Paul Foster rose to prominence as head chef at Tuddenham Mill and Mallory Court but struck out on his own with Salt. The Stratford-upon-Avon restaurant has been a significant success, winning a star in Michelin’s 2019 guide.

What was your first job?
Glass collecting, washing up and preparing vegetables at my mum and dad’s pub when I was 12. 

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
Take away, I can’t resist a nice kebab, proper grilled one though, I can’t eat that doner meat. 

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
The French Laundry was technically superb and a true lesson in fine dining. 

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Thomas Keller - I have admired him since I was 16, what he has built is incredible.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
No idea, probably move from job to job as there is nothing I feel as passionate about.

What is your biggest regret?
Everything I have ever done has led to me being where I am, I have an amazing wife, children and restaurant. I have no regrets at all.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Big tall chef hats, they look ridiculous and are totally impractical. 

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
A customer once sent their food back and complained that their very well done beef sirloin was dry!! I told the restaurant staff to say “Thank you, I have done my job” and sent it back to them. They didn’t appreciate my sarcasm.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Fat Duck’s pigeon with liquid black pudding spelt and umbles, best dish I have ever eaten. 

Describe your cooking style in three words
Purity of flavour.

Most overrated food?

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Glace cherries. 

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
There are a few dodgy TripAdvisor reviews out there... 

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Tom Hanks, seems like a proper nice guy. I would invite my wife along so she could meet him and have a good chat as it’s probably the only celebrity she would genuinely want to meet.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
If you want to achieve something it takes hard work, and dedication. You will never be “great” by working 37 hour weeks. 

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
Konro BBQ. 

What do you cook at home on your days off?
Anything simple like curry, homemade fish fingers, chicken with hand rolled flatbreads. 

What’s your earliest food memory?
Eating my mum’s steak and ale pie at the pubs we grew up in.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Glynn Purnell told me when I was going on stage to French Laundry to forget about the finished food on the plate and to learn the hows and whys of the journey the food takes to get to the plate.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Fell asleep whilst driving working crazy hard hours in the early days here at salt. I had a head on collision at 50 mph with another car, wrote them both off and managed to walk straight out of the car.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
I love a spa day with the wife, few treatments, nice food and wine by the pool.

Tipple of choice?
Wine, gin, rare tea, coffee, not all in one though. 

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Cyrus Todiwala’s Lamb dhansak, it’s the most amazing curry I have ever eaten.

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