Greig Young, head chef at The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds, tells us about his career to date, his signature dish and what he loves most about East Anglia
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BECOME A CHEF?
I’ve always liked food and I’ve always enjoyed working hard, but I first wanted to go in to music as a career. My mind was soon changed around the age of 16 when I was washing pots in a local Italian place on the pier. It was incredibly busy but a really well-run operation and a genuinely great place to work. After a few years, I found myself addicted to the buzz of the kitchen and decided to pursue cooking professionally.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR CAREER HIGHLIGHT TO DATE?
I have had so many! I am very lucky and have cooked in many amazing locations. A couple of years ago, I was cooking with one of my mentors Daniel Galmiche in Manila in the Philippines. It was a great experience. The hotel was huge and we took over one of their 14 dining rooms for five nights. I have never seen anything like it. The kitchens were over three floors and staffed by over 400 chefs!
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE CELEBRITY CHEF?
This is hard to say as I don’t really follow celebrity chefs, but I do like Heston. He is just so clever. I was lucky enough to spend two weeks at the Fat Duck. It runs like clockwork. The food is so creative technically, but I was most impressed by the organisation of the kitchen and the attitude of the staff.
WHAT IS YOUR SIGNATURE DISH?
Not so much a signature dish just yet, but I’m having great fun making a handchopped rabbit leg with Cumberland style sausage dish. I am giving it a Suffolk twist by using wild rabbit from Denham Estate. It’s super local and they always keep the best aside for me. It’s a very humble dish and served with a broad bean salad and lightly seasoned with toasted fennel seeds.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE INGREDIENT TO COOK WITH AND WHY?
I am loving Norfolk quail at the moment as it is a really consistent product. It is always the same and it is always fantastic. Not only are they full of flavour, but they are also full of protein and essential vitamins and minerals, making them a nutritious type of poultry. My everyday favourite ingredient is Rattlesden farm eggs, which are also local to The Northgate. We use them in a simple lemon tart dish where the clean flavour is left to stand out and shine.
WHERE IS THE BEST RESTAURANT YOU’VE EVER DINED IN?
That’s also very hard to answer! My most memorable meal chef-wise was in Sydney, in a restaurant called ‘Because’ which is run by a chef called Justin North. I ate with a close friend who used to work there, and the team just cooked whatever they liked, however they liked, and it was great fun. I also have great memories of a place called Tanuki’s Cave in Auckland, as I went there with my fiancé on our first date. We ate everything from duck hearts to chicken feet paired with far too much sake. If I was to go back to a restaurant it would be here.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT WORKING IN EAST ANGLIA?
The produce here is just amazing. The meat stands out, but the vegetables and fruit are some of the best I’ve ever worked with. Not only do I work in East Anglia, but I live here and have for some time now. It is so easy to draw inspiration from all the places I pass and visit weekly – be it gin from Newmarket to cure fish, or local quince at the end of the year to make our jellies. There is an abundance of wild produce and great producers, paired with really open-minded people who enjoy what we are cooking.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE TASTE OF EAST ANGLIA MENU CURRENTLY ON OFFER AT THE NORTHGATE.
Earlier in the summer, Philip Turner, founder of The Chestnut Group and I were discussing the huge array of excellent local produce such as fish from Lowestoft, meat from Blythburgh, dairy from Bungay and vegetables from Norfolk. It felt like the perfect time to create a special menu to celebrate this. We like to think we will take our guests taste buds on an exciting culinary journey around East Anglia. I love cooking the Taste of East Anglia menu. I’ve really enjoyed putting this menu together and as a chef, it has made me stop and really look at what is on our doorstep. I’ve even incorporated ingredients, like rhubarb from my own garden into the menu. We try to highlight one ingredient per course and let it shine. It makes it even more special dining on the Chef’s Table, as the team are so passionate about what we do and the chefs love talking about what they have made that day. I think people are really enjoying it.