Nik Hare is the Executive Chef at the Victoria Inn at beautiful Holkham. He talks to us about starting out, top tips and working abroad.
How long have you been cooking professionally?
I first started to cook professionally in 1999 when I attended Norwich City Catering College and Hotel School.
Where did you train to cook?
I trained at Park Farm Hotel which is located south of Norwich in Hethersett.
Do you have a signature dish or a favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
I’ve cooked a wide variety and styles of food in my career and have come to appreciate many different tastes. One of my favourite ingredients to work with is venison, I can’t really say I have a signature dish, however if put on the spot it would incorporate venison.
Run us through your average day as chef at The Victoria?
An average day at The Victoria for me would involve starting with a black coffee, a chat with the team and a run through of the day’s prep lists. Once my knife has been sharpened it’s time to get cracking. I would gather my invoices from suppliers, plan my week ahead and liaise with my sous over any upcoming events or particular bookings we may have scheduled. Then after lunch service a dart to the high school to collect my girls, a brief couple of hours off before returning to The Vic for evening service at 6pm.
What has been you’re most interesting/fun experience from your time working as a chef?
I’m asked this often. I have been fortunate to travel the world in my younger years and I can say hand on heart the most fun I had working as a chef was in Singapore. I stumbled across a fresh noodle store in the market place and ended up working with a great friend I named ‘Jim’.
Cooking authentic Malaysian and absorbing so many aromas and flavours has to be one memory for which I shall always treasure.
Is there another chef you most admire?
I don’t have a particular chef which I admire, in honesty they are all worthy of admiration. To continue to work in catering and live with the sacrifices it demands anyone in my eyes who makes that decision is admirable. A chef’s life involves long days, hard graft and often missing out on family life in the pursuit of a career, the love of pushing yourself to your limits of ability is a trait which all the greats have in common.
What would your ‘last request’ dish be?
If I had to make the choice I would most certainly have some form of burger, probably lamb with a mint relish, celeriac slaw and onion rings… depends on the circumstances I guess!
Finally, any advice for any young chefs out there?
If I can offer any advice to anyone thinking of becoming a chef it is this, don’t be afraid to follow your dreams, be prepared to make sacrifices and listen to the others around you. Be proud to call yourself a chef and always stay true to yourself. Above all never stop learning and looking for challenges, enjoy every moment of kitchen life.