It’s been a little while since the last Meet The Local but I promise that I’ve returned with a good one. This week it’s all about Alec from The Weeping Chef. You’ll either find Alec cooking at private dinner parties or weddings, or he’ll be cooking on his BBQ at the Wednesday and Saturday markets. His market stall has just been nominated at the St Albans Food and Drink Awards!
As a massive foodie I’ve loved finding out more about Alec’s adventure and I’m particularly fascinated that he’s cooked in Le Gavroche. So make a cup of tea, take a seat and find out more about Alec…
As I work for myself in a typical day chaos reigns supreme! Between organising supplies for the week’s work, grinding the herbs and spices for my rubs and marinades, butchery and smoking of briskets and pork bellies etc, trying to answer booking inquiries that will often consist of some form of menu writing, and keeping up with the girls (6 year old twins and the 3 year old “boss”) it may not come as a surprise to hear that my day at market is almost restful even when I have to cater for a dinner party after!
The one thing do I love most about my job is… feeding people! It’s the best thing in the world! I sometimes forget it’s a job! Food connects us all and can brings us together regardless of race faith wealth or age, and sometimes if you look close enough to a dish you can see snippets of history. I find it fascinating. Without a doubt the hard work and long hours make it all worthwhile.
I ended up working in my current job as… a cocktail of burn-out, mid-life crisis, and twins! I did a number of stages following my appearance on Masterchef 2012, it allowed me to tap in to my passion for cooking and opened doors to give me a peek into a few Michelin kitchens as well as other establishments, I met so many great chefs that encouraged me and egged me on my way, I’m honoured to be able to call so many of them friends! Eventually I set out with my then brand new BBQ and more than one smoke induced tear and The Weeping Chef was born.
Why St Albans? Was it luck or destiny? we happened to contact the new manager for St Albans market at the time he started 3 1/2- 4 years ago way back before the food court became what it is today, I fell in love with the town and the people and the rest is history.
The best piece of advice I received was be a mushroom (keep your head in the dark and eat shit). It stuck with me! And I’ve made sure to do the exact opposite every day since
My most memorable moment…without a doubt is working in Le Gavroche for the day thanks to my wife. To be given a mountain of potatoes for “turning” by hand is almost cliché but to then be asked to fix the load someone else did was excellent! Then Keri Moss set me up to work next to her and showed + fed me so much food and knowledge it was memorable!
Pub in St Albans: I like to spread the love! I might have a quick one from The White Swan during or after work on Saturdays. I definitely have more than one at The Mermaid specially if I’m popping up there for events! Or I might sneak in to Suckerpunch they have amazing cocktails! I think I had a slushy pina colada last week it was fantastic in this heat
Place to eat in St Albans:I’m afraid I can’t narrow it down to one! Of course I’m going to say the Wednesday and Saturday markets for brunch to late lunch, most of us traders do food swaps amongst each other, but don’t risk it have a brisket! I probably eat at Thai Square far too often! I like the king prawn jungle curry.
Memory of St Albans: So many! Buying my first home using a Law firm in St Albans, getting my first brewing equipment from Derek’s (the lovely little wine shop) that I make mead with… a house and some good booze what more can a man ask for?
Place to have a coffee:I must apologize for this one, as a chef and a father of 3 kids my minimum requirement for drink is liquid… I use Nero for convenience as it’s close to me, otherwise I tend to drink gut wrenching strength coffee from a proper Italian percolator at home, I like Kanuka Tea for a treat.
Place to buy a present: I’d say the market! supporting the small businesses that make it what it is, is very important
A huge thank you to Alec to answering all my questions, please check back next Thursday to meet my next guest.