'Everybody's looking for something different', says chef Peter Gorton
With many years in the restaurant business under his belt, Michelin-starred British chef Peter Gorton now travels the world consulting for the hospitality industry far and wide. Speaking to Fresh Fruit Portal, he talks about the encouragement he feels when meeting with passionate growers, the ever-growing trend of seeking out that something new to eat, and the diverse and high-profile line up of chefs who will be cooking up a storm at the London Produce Show 2017.
Starting off with a company called the Chefs' Forum and then moving on to own a string of famous restaurants in the U.K., Gorton now lends his services to those seeking to train their staff, develop new menu ideas, or simply inject some passion into their kitchens.
He will be the host of the Chef Demonstration Theatre at the annual trade fair to be held in the U.K. capital from June 7-9, where a broad mix of chefs will be celebrating the role of fresh produce in high-end cuisine and showcasing a variety of cooking styles and trends.
Gorton explained the chefs would often cook dishes with produce procured from the exhibitors at the trade show and put their own spin on it.
"You've got someone like Nathan Eades who's from Simpsons in Birmingham, which is a Michelin-starred restaurant, and you've got Jim Fisher who's from the Exeter Cookery School, to give you the diversity. He had his own cookery school in Dordogne in southern France and then came over to England," he said.
"There's also Patrick and Sherrie, they do the Carib-Asian recipes that were handed down by their parents. She was a broadcaster and used to do sign language interpretation and he was a recording artist and now does radio and works with volunteers."
The husband and wife team started off with their own TV show that received rave reviews, and recently launched their own recipe book.
"Then there's also Elly Wentworth who was a finalist on MasterChef and has worked in quite a few of the Michelin-starred restaurants. She's tipped to be one of the next leading woman chefs in the U.K.," Gorton said.
Alistair Birt and Alistair Dibbs, the head pastry chef and executive sous chef from the world-renowned luxury department store Harrods in London, will also be taking to the stage.
"So you’re going to have a bit of a mixture going on," he said.
Gorton explained that as a chef, it was great to be able to meet with those from across the international fruit and vegetable supply chain in an intimate environment.
"For me the big thing about it is the opportunity to meet and share with other people from around the world," he said.
"To meet the actual producer of those products coming over and talking passionately about them, for chefs like myself it sort of gives you a kick to say 'we want to cook this with passion and pride'. From the chain all the way up that’s inspirational really and doesn’t happen in many shows."
He added there was a strong similarity between being a chef and being a producer.
"As a chef we're passionate people, we get a bit obsessed with what we try to do. And that passion is very encouraging for a chef like myself to see from growers, because you see you've actually got it from the beginning of the supply chain."
Gorton went on to say that those from the produce industry could also learn and take inspiration from the chefs' demonstrations, leading to an environment where "everybody’s learning from everybody."
And with global levels of obesity on the rise, it will be important the food service sector to work together with the produce industry to help boost consumption of fruits and vegetables, he explained.
"Since I've done shows like this I've linked with a lot of producers. I have a school program called Food is Fun and on the back of the London Produce Show some of them have sponsored vegetables to go in to schools to show to the children and parents," he said.
"Many don't know about their five-a-day and some of them don't know what's nutritious and what isn't. So through meeting various people it leads on to other things, and you find that most of it is bringing awareness."
The world has become a small place, he added, and everyone needed to reach out to different parts of it to see where new ideas can be learned. Trying new foods and flavors from different countries is one of the key trends Gorton has noted over recent years.
"I think everybody’s looking for something different," he said.
"As humans we like to find something different, and have different taste and textures. Especially oriental food and fusion. I know fusion's been around for a long time, but lots of people are discovering it.
"We know the Italian cuisine, the French cuisine, we know the basic oriental food, but reaching out to different countries and trying to find different things is quite exciting really."
For more information on the London Produce Show and Conference, click here.