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Mikey has been Head Chef at The Three Oaks, Gerrards Cross for five years this week. Under his reign this popular gastro pub was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2014 and has subsequently received various other awards and accolades including the Good Food Guide and the Buckinghamshire and Berkshire Food and Drink Awards. With Mikey’s experience including stints at the Hinds Head and the Fat Duck, it is no surprise that the Three Oaks has become a force to be reckoned with on the Chiltern Food scene.
Below is an interview with Mikey that appeared in the Chiltern Food Magazine November 2016 edition.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
I base most of my dishes on classic flavours, that people know & love but I like to add my own twist on it. Essentially, I’m driven by each seasons’ best & fresh produce. However, most importantly for me, I make sure there’s a balance of flavours & textures.
Do you have a signature dish?
I don’t think I have one in particular! I do have a few dishes that have featured on the menu for some time now; Suckling Pig Belly and the Lemon & Thyme Marinated Chicken. However, these dishes still evolve with the change of seasons in terms of the marinade, the garnish & the way of cooking.
How long have you been at The Three Oaks (and where were you beforehand)?
We actually recently celebrated my 4th year here! I’m so proud of my team here. We’re so solid. I’m chuffed to have retained our 3rd Bib Gourmand this year and also a new entry in the 2017 Good Food Guide! It’s been an awesome journey to date.
Before here, I spent two years at Heston’s, The Hinds Head in Bray, Berks and two years at The Grove in Chandler’s Cross/Watford, Herts. I met Michelin Star chef Clive Dixon at The Hind’s Head, then he moved onto The White Oak (our sister pub in Cookham). Clive & I remained good friends and it was him that introduced me to The Three Oaks. I have never looked back!
What would be your desert island dish?
A really fat dirty, juicy burger!
What’s the one piece of kitchen equipment you couldn’t live without?
My Vac-Pac machine! I can’t stop playing with it. It can vacuum, compress, marinade, infuse, aerate, preserve & it’s just so much fun.
How important to you is local and seasonal eating?
Seasonal eating is what drives me and my menu. We’re lucky enough to have the space to grow for our own vegetables & herbs, literally 10 steps away from the kitchen back door! Having the garden is exciting and it keeps us all extra busy, inspired & constantly creating! No waste as well, we use what we grow. I keep changing things on the menu that reflect the particular time of year. Some chefs break it down into 4 seasons, I’d say I break it down into 10 or 12. I enjoy the transition of seasonal produce so much.
What are your own foodie favourites in the Chilterns?
My family & I love a weekend visit over to The Grocer in Old Amersham. Also, I’m good friends with Laurie from The Artichoke (next door), love that place. No5, in Beaconsfield & The Coach, in Marlow. Just to name a few…
What are your ambitions at The Three Oaks?
To be honest, it hasn’t really changed since I started. My intensions are to always have a happy kitchen brigade and to continue cooking fresh, local, tasty food for our customers. It’s also fantastic to know that people leave here happy and are supporting what we do. Having a positive & enthusiastic team behind me, front & back of house is amazing too. I never wish for that to change.
Tell us a little more about your appearance on the Polish Master Chef?
Well, that was definitely an experience! It was overwhelming but fantastic to take part in a competition like that. Mainly because you’re getting to know yourself & your strengths when under pressure! Having the cameras around you was stressful but you learnt to ignore it after a while. It was amazing to meet & cook with so many like-minded Polish chefs too. It’s so good to see food in Poland is rapidly changing. People are appreciating more organic, local produce. I’ve already had a few chefs from the show pop over to the UK to come and work in my kitchen for a stint. I’d never done anything like that before. Obviously it’s you, yourself and I, no team to back you up or encourage you. It kicked my confidence in a good way and was a real sense of achievement. My following on Instagram & Facebook has gone sky high, it’s mad!