Q&A: Head Chef Josh Donachie, Lake Country House Hotel, Powys

If you’re bored of the banal  Boxing Day TV offerings, read on. I love chatting to people who have a real passion for food, which is why interviewing Josh Donachie was a dream. I spoke to him earlier this year (see original interview here), but a lot can happen in seven months, which is why I couldn’t wait to find out what Josh has been up to. This inventive chef continues to create waves in the food industry through his delicious food and razor sharp wit. Here’s what Josh had to say about respecting food, how cooking inspires him, and what he’d feed Donald Trump if he popped into the restaurant.

Congratulations on your new role as Head Chef at Lake Country House Hotel. What is the best part of your job there?

It is being able to change the menu daily, so as a team we are constantly evolving and practicing new dishes. I feel my style has changed for the better and becoming more natural.

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What is the dining scene like in Powys? Have you been around other restaurants in Wales?

I haven’t had a chance to be in many of the restaurants in Wales, but I am looking forward to visiting Gareth Ward at Ynyshir Hall.

What has been your career highlight of this year?

I feel this year has had its ups and downs. But a massive highlight was for me to cook at Shrewsbury Food festival in front of the busiest crowd of the weekend, my home crowd.

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What would you say to those who think celebrity chefs lead a glamorous life?

I wouldn’t know really, I just want to stay true to myself and carry on developing and customers to enjoy what we are doing at the hotel.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?

I would probably be a barber or maybe a mixologist as I feel you can have a natural flair doing those professions.

How do you feel when you cook?

When cooking, I feel at my most natural, making sure everything is as good as it can be for the guest. I’m always thinking about textures, flavours and temperatures to create an amazing dish.

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How do you want to make diners feel when they step foot into your restaurant?

I want them to respect the food which we do and enjoy the journey from start to finish. It is all about the experience for me, it’s never just a meal.

What inspires you in the kitchen and how long does it take to create a menu (starter, main dessert)?

I get inspiration from a lot of sources. The people around me inspire me, as does nature, where I can look out of the window and focus on the colours and landscape. Music has a massive influence also. We create dishes and menus daily so we work out what’s good and go from there.

Have you ever gotten emotional after tasting a dish so delicious, that you’ve stopped functioning?

I remember eating a tartare of venison at L’Enclume and it still sticks in my memory nearly four years on. The meat was tender, the charcoal oil amazing, and fennel fantastic.

What do you think of food critics – friend or foe?

I feel everyone is a critic and everyone is as important. There should be no VIP.

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 If you could throw a dinner party, who would you have as guests (from any era).

If I could turn back time, I would invite my Gran who has just passed. I would love for her to be able to eat my food one last time and just hear her voice again.

Do friends ever get nervous when you visit for a meal?

To be honest I just enjoy being cooked for, so I try to put people at ease.

Would you say you’re an intimidating chef? How often do you shout in your kitchen?

I wouldn’t say I’m intimidating at all. I don’t really shout, but my voice is loud when necessarily to speed up the service and delegate instruction.

Are there any exciting plans that you’d like to share with us?

I just want to get my head down and focus on what the year has to offer. I would love to do something within the local community and more food demonstrations would be great.

 If Donald Trump popped up at the Lake Country House Hotel and asked you to cook him anything you like, what dish would you rustle up?

Fajitas!

If this interview has whet your appetite for Josh’s delicious food, you may want to plan a break at the Lake Country House Hotel. Find out more about this gorgeous hotel here. If you go, do send me photos of the food, I’d love to know how you get on.

RAx

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