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We celebrate 25 years of the iconic ‘Simpsons Restaurant’ in Birmingham with its Michelin starred executive chef Luke Tipping
Luke Tipping’s first cooking job was at the Plough and Harrow in Birmingham where he worked for over 5 years. This kitchen taught him the basics of classical cooking at a very high level. He moved onto various kitchens around Birmingham and overseas before joining the original Simpsons in Kenilworth in 1993, under the ownership of Andreas Antona. Luke gained a Michelin Star in 1999 and has retained it ever since. Century Design caught up with him at the recently and beautifully refurbished Edgbaston restaurant, home for Simpsons since 2004.
Simpsons is 25 this year – how have you marked the occasion?
We invited chefs that had worked for Simpsons from over the last 25 years to cook a special dinner with some of their favourite dishes from the past, for suppliers, family and old customers who have all supported us over the past 25 years.
Who has influenced your cookery the most – personally and professionally?
Recently Simon Rogan from L’Enclume. I really love his approach to food, his simplicity on the plate. He’s been increasingly successful without losing his true goal whilst training some incredibly talented chefs.
What’s your favourite go-to ingredient?
What’s your greatest strength in the kitchen?
What do you aspire to be as a chef?
What frustrates you in the kitchen?
Over preparation and waste drives me mad !
If you had to work for one chef in the world, who would it be?
If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be?
Paul Weller, my absolute hero.
What music was playing in the kitchen last night?
Mumford and Sons
What was the last book you read?
‘Positive Impact Golf’ by Brian Sparks, if you play golf it will make you think how you look at the way you play the game.
‘Larousse Gastronomique’ – every young chef should own this book.
What’s in your fridge at home?
What food is your guilty pleasure?
What do you think is the next worthwhile food/dining trend?
Recreating classics using modern technology.
How important to you is the tableware for your plating? Where do you think the design trend is heading?
It’s always important to get something beautiful to serve food on to make it look fantastic to eat. I think we’ll be returning to plain white plates very soon.
Besides Simpsons, where do you like to go and eat or relax in Birmingham?
I enjoy Pure Bar and Kitchen, which offers high quality simple food and incredible craft beers from the Purity Brewing Co.
Give us one reason Birmingham should be considered a culinary destination?
Birmingham is a melting pot of many communities with such diversity, from the famous Balti to Michelin stars and now the award winning street food.
Your last food-related ‘wow’ moment was?
At the Ritz in London – what a stunning dining experience and incredible food.
What’s your last meal on earth, if you had the chance to choose?
Lobster cocktail, a big juicy steak cooked over charcoal with chips and apple Tart Tatin.
Food Waste – Everyone’s Problem?
The benefits of recycling food waste may or may not be fully understood by all sectors of hospitality, however, the statistics around waste could not be starker.
An incredible 920,000 tonnes of food is wasted by U.K hospitality businesses each year, 75% of which is completely avoidable.
It is thought that an average sized restaurant will throw away the equivalent of £100,000 to landfill in wasted food every year. Imagine having that to spend on staff?
Landfill is expected to reach maximum capacity possibly by 2020 as the U.K continues to lag behind all 27 E.U countries when it comes to recycling food waste. Whilst it is getting easier for caterers to access recycling methods that can divert waste from landfill by converting food into green energy, so much more can be done to address the issue of waste as soon as fresh produce comes into the kitchen.
Reducing restaurant waste doesn’t have to be hard. Even something small like replacing paper napkins with cloth ones can help save your wallet and the environment in the long run. A larger investment like a POS system might seem like too big a cost to deal with, but tracking inventory helps to ensure you’re only buying what you need, and you can gauge when it will go bad. A big purchase now saves money in the long run whilst donating anything you can’t use can make a big difference to those in food poverty.
Little things will always help too – small plate and portion sizes, composting waste for recycled energy and even offering doggie bags can address a growing problem.