Johnny Stanford, head chef, Pascere chats to Nick Mosley

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With the launch of Brighton’s newest restaurant Pascere, Nick Mosley catches up with head chef Johnny Stanford.

What’s your chef background?

I’m originally from Manchester. My interests in food were sparked from helping my grandma in the kitchen. She still inspires me to this day. After high school I went to Trafford catering college while working at various restaurants in and around Manchester. I’d always leaned towards more refined food so when the opportunity came to work at Juniper, Manchester’s only Michelin starred restaurant, I jumped at the chance. From then on I was hooked and worked in the Lake District and Edinburgh in Michelin starred venues before moving to Brighton 5 years ago to work with Matt Gillan at The Pass.

How will working in a pure restaurant environment rather than hotel be different?

Pure restaurants are really my background. South lodge was my first venture into a large hotel. I’m really looking forward to getting back behind an independent restaurant. The greater freedom translates into the quality of the offering. Less restriction means we can use who we think are the best suppliers for certain produce. Our options for creating and adapting are pretty much limitless.

What attracts chefs to work in Brighton?

Who doesn’t want to live by the sea? Brighton’s food scene is fast becoming one of the best in the uk. The diversity of the cuisine is incredible. For me personally I enjoy the fact that there’s always something and somewhere different to try on my days off. There’s also an amazing camaraderie among chefs in the city and its great to be a part of that. It makes for such a cultural and constant hub of ideas.

Tell us about the menu?

The menu is tailored around the great produce we have available to us in the UK. Simple flavour combinations coupled with old and new culinary techniques. Balanced dishes with flavour being of the upmost importance. We offer an all day small plates menu with classic and more unusual items. Our a la carte lunch menu is designed to be accessible and appeal to the business community as well as shoppers and tourists looking for a relaxed but refined lunch option. Our a la carte dinner menu offers more creativity with the added option of a tasting menu for a more special experience.

What’s your sourcing policy?

I might get some flack for saying this but my sourcing policy is simple. I want to use the best ingredients, working closely with suppliers who really care about what they sell and produce. Ideally this would be local and many of our suppliers are. But I won’t use local if I can source a better product from another part of the UK. I admire venues who stick resolutely to a limited radius of suppliers but I also think that by doing this you miss out on some of the amazing produce we have available elsewhere in the UK. 

If you can choose one dish from the launch menu, what would be your favourite and why?

That’s a hard one. I think it would have to be the lamb sweetbreads dish. I really like the fact it has a great balance between richness and freshness. The sorrel and lemon work so well with the sweetbreads, ewes curd and ewes milk. It’s a real summer dish celebrating a amazing ingredients. Its also Amanda’s favourite and it was the first thing I cooked for her!

What gap in the Brighton market does Pascere fill?
I think we fill the position for somewhere with relaxed but attentive service, food with a sense of occasion in an informal, unstuffy environment. Ambience is an important part of the vision for Pascere and we want customers to feel at home. We will have a large selection of wines by the glass and we want our customers to feel that they can linger and relax. Given our location and our outside space, we want Pascere to appeal to a wide range of customers who appreciate good cooking, good wines and enjoy being looked after.

Pascere opens this month at 8 Duke Street, Brighton. For more information visit www.pascere.co.uk

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