David Cox is the head chef at Iscoyd Park, a North West private country house wedding and events venue, which touches the borders of North Wales, Shropshire and Cheshire.
With years of invaluable experience working across a number of Michelin and multi-rosette winning establishments, and learning the tricks of his trade whilst rubbing shoulders with the likes of Michelin-star chef Claude Bosi at Hibiscus, David is a force to be reckoned with in the culinary world.
We sat down with David and talked about everything from his favourite home comfort food to his love of chocolate.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I guess I would say I fell into it really. I wanted to be a fireman but couldn’t get in so went through the catering side hoping to have another chance at it. I think the click or love of it came from my first proper kitchen, Maes-y-Neuadd in Wales, which was a two-Rosette hotel at the time with its own garden for fresh produce. The chef was Peter Jackson, a lanky Scottish fella who was great with all classical techniques. We had really fresh fruit and veg coming in every day from the gardens, fish and game getting sold at the kitchen back door – it was great. I also learnt how to break down whole animals, bake bread and deal with crazy services – it was amazing at 17!
After that the Michelin kitchens came, which hooked me – working 16 plus hour days, the services were hell some days but getting through them and going again day after day was a real buzz. The produce was just unreal too and working with masters of cooking from Luke Tipping to Rob Weston and Gary Foukles was incredible.
What’s your signature dish?
I can’t say I have a signature dish yet. I think a signature comes from finding your style and from your environment; from where you’re from to your training. A signature dish is basically you on a plate, it should shout you. I love using whole animals, from offal to the blood (if you can get it).
What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu?
Menus, first and foremost, come from the seasons – they are your foundations. Using as much local produce as possible is also important for me. We love to support the local economy at Iscoyd Park and there is so much on our doorstep which makes it so much easier to do so.
We also try to create a balanced menu and, as we’re a wedding venue, we get a massive range of clients so it’s important we have variety and can help and support to make their day special.
What would you do if you weren’t a chef?
I would be a fireman or a pilot for passenger airlines. I always wanted to be a fireman but that didn’t work out for me and I’ve always loved the idea of flying planes.
What is your favourite dish to cook at home?
Lasagne as it’s the perfect home comfort food and I absolutely love it!
What is your favourite ingredient?
I love working with chocolate. I think chocolate is the one of the few ingredients that you just need in your life. It’s indulgent, warm and comforting and, when it comes to cooking with it, it enriches a sauce and brings a bitterness but also a creaminess to it. My favourite way is a simple chocolate fondant – heaven.
When are you happiest?
I’d have to say at Iscoyd first thing in the morning after all the orders are away and last thing before leaving when the kitchen is clean and tidy. I also love joking with the guys once the orders are done. It’s a really special environment at Iscoyd.