This week, we were lucky enough to chat with Antony Page, Executive Chef at The George Hotel in Christchurch. We discussed his top advice for new chefs, and the surprising guilty pleasure he can’t get enough of.
Your favourite recipe you cook for yourself?
Pasta is always a favoutite and a roast chicken with polenta fries is a popular meal for my two young boys.
The one thing you always have in your fridge?
Kewpie mayonnaise and soda water.
If you could impart one piece of cooking knowledge to everyone, what would it be?
Plan ahead and break up the jobs. Do one part the day before and allow more time than you think.
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That’s a tough one, probably pizza. I remember saying as a young boy to my mother that I wanted pizza every night for dinner.
Can you recall the moment when you knew you wanted to pursue a career in food?
I fell into cooking but it took a firm grasp very quickly, and 22 years later I'm still loving it.
Your go-to dinner party meal?
Dinner parties I share with my wife Jessica (who is an amazing baker and dessert cook) so I do the savoury part. Normally a braised beef dish in the winter, and she will do a tarte tatin or a rhubarb and ginger crumble.
Who is your food hero?
I have had many, but for a long time David Kinch of Manresa in the States. He’s a very humble and non-showy chef, but with great thought and connection to his food - something I strive for on a daily basis.
What music, if any, do you like to listen to while cooking?
Our playlist is varied and we like it that way. The cooks in the kitchen choose the style so we are not listening to the same music over again. I’m up for anything normally.
Biggest kitchen disaster?
Thankfully not many that I can remember.
Your guilty pleasure?
I have quite a sweet tooth so McDonald's apple pie at 1am on the way home from work is my deep fried cinnamon-infused vice.
In all your travels, where have you experienced the best food (and what was it)?
Probably India. I was there for nearly two years and it really opened my eyes to what real Indian food was and the complexity of the spices and the regions. There are thousand of dishes but the chicken biryani would have to be the best.
Is there one cookbook you go back to time and time again?
My most treasured and influential would have been the French Laundry by Thomas Keller.
The kitchen utensil you can't live without?
Good pair of tongs and my Wüsthof fish slice that I've had for nearly 20 years (if you have one then you know).
You're currently craving?
Anything from Sweet Soul Patisserie - and I mean anthying. Plus the summer chocolate range from Adelphi chocolates in the Arts Centre in Christchurch.
Any advice to new chefs?
Take it seriously. It is not a job...it’s a lifestyle and a calling. You have to invest in the long run but it will reap rewards if you do, and listen to those who teach and guide.
For Antony's summer salad recipe, click here.