Ashley Palmer-Watts

NameAshley Palmer-Watts
RestaurantDinner by Heston
CityMelbourne and London

Biggest culinary influence?
I joined the Fat Duck in 1999, looking back now at what we achieved, it's incredible. I look at the industry before Fat Duck and after - it’s completely changed. Dinner by Heston wouldn’t exist if it were not for the learnings, imaginings and practices we created at the Fat Duck.

Cuisine style or food philosophy?
The menu at Dinner by Heston is an a la carte selection of modern dishes that have been created by taking inspiration from history, and also a bit of nostalgia. The dishes may appear to be simple but actually there is an enormous amount of technique and complexity behind the scenes.

Signature dish?
The most anticipated dish at the restaurant is meat fruit, which originated from one of Heston’s Feasts programmes. It’s a Tudor-inspired dish from the royal banqueting feasts 1500c of King Henry VIII. We worked on that historic concept and developed and created a modern version for the restaurant. It remains one of the most popular dishes.

What is the one thing you want people to know about you?
I’m a mad keen cyclist. Which has only increased now I spend so much time in Melbourne. I have many friends here, most of whom I have met through cycling. So if anyone knows of great cycling routes or must do’s then let me know.

What drives you as a chef?
Obviously I love my job or I wouldn’t be doing it but the thing that really drives me is my team. Split between the two Dinners I have a team of about 93 chefs and 110 front of house. That’s the buzz for me. We really work together as one and I have loved the creation of the team and how we have developed. I work with some incredible people.

What’s the most important thing you’ve ever learned in the kitchen?
To taste. To taste every single element of what you do EVERY night before service. Often us chefs forget to do that bit for many reasons. With all chefs that join us this is one of the first things we instil into their training. I would say that from a kitchen perspective it is the most important cog in the wheel.

If you had to take a wild guess, what do you think we’ll be eating in 25 years?
I would like to think that we will be eating food that we confidently know is not only sustainable but also sympathetic to the planet and everything on it. I hope that we will have worked out how we can sustainably eat on this planet and feed everyone on it.