Chris’s interest in food started at a young age in his mum’s pub where he was often roped into peeling spuds in the busy kitchen. The sights and smells sparked something inside him. Flying the nest, he worked in local restaurants and brasseries, quickly working his way up to the position of head chef. From here, he wanted more experience on the experimental side and worked for a couple of companies developing dishes and opening new restaurants. The excitement of travelling and having to move from budget hotel to budget hotel soon wore off though.
Chris has been with Young’s for nearly six years. “Every day is different”, he says. “Getting to work with amazing people and to see our chefs deliver excellent food that delights our customers is just a great experience.”
Name: Chris knights
Title: Group Executive Chef for Young’s & Geronimo
Favourite dish currently on your menu: My most recent favourite dish was at the Builders Arms in Chelsea: a simple but delicious Cornish crab on toast. The flaky white crab meat is really simply mixed with coriander, a squeeze of lime juice, avocado and some seasoning. Sitting on top of a thick slab of crunchy sourdough toast, which was also topped with brown crab meat mixed with crème fraiche. Simple, seasonal & delicious.
Best time of year for food: Honestly? Any time – our fields, farms & seas always have so so much to offer: spring for asparagus, Jersey Royals and wild garlic; summer for cherries and sardines; autumn for wonderful wild birds, like grouse & pheasant or winter for Jerusalem artichokes and forced rhubarb.
Most treasured food memory: Sitting around the table with all of my family eating a roast dinner and watching my little ones enjoy good food. You can’t beat it.
Food trend you loathe: Hot dogs! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good hot dog, but there’s just so much hype about them being the next big thing that just doesn’t match up to reality. Some are saying it’s going to be the next burger; somehow, I think not.
Dream food destination: Tricky one, it’s a real mix to be honest. I love the blend of Middle-Eastern food – Turkish, Iranian, Lebanese & Israeli.
Death row dinner: It would have to be a Frutti di Mare: plenty of fresh crab, lobsters, oysters, langoustines, clams all served with plenty of lemon, tabasco & shallot vinegar!
Your food philosophy: Keep it Fresh, British & seasonal. Season well. Don’t overcomplicate the ingredients and cooking techniques. Ultimately, deliver it excellently every time.
List the essential constituent parts of a Ploughman’s: Some really extra mature cheddar cheese, like Keens from Moor Hayes farm, English mustard, pickled onions, celery, apple, fresh-out-of-the-oven bread, some proper butter from the likes of Netherend Farm, a scotch egg (the yolk has to be runny, mind) and, to top it off, some thick slabs of ham that’s been glazed in honey. Not that I’m fussy or anything.