Ken Hollis at the Castle Inn, Newport

Ken Hollis Castle Inn

Today we talk with Ken Hollis, the Chef at The Castle Inn, Newport.

 Today I am speaking with Ken the Chef here at The Castle Inn,  Newport Thank you for meeting with me for Chefs Corner today.

So let’s start off with you telling me a little bit about The Castle Inn…

Well we have been here at The Castle for about three months now. It’s probably the best looking pub on the Isle of Wight and it’s certainly one of the oldest, certainly the oldest in Newport. everything in it is real, there’s no plastic and no falseness about it. Just a beautiful pub.

Well, we can vouch for that, this pub is where Mr and Mrs Menu Venue met each other…..

Obviously you are cooking every day, so when you aren’t working here serving up delicious meals, where is your favourite place to eat out on the island?

I like going to the Blacksmiths in Calbourne Road, it’s another very traditional pub but it serves simple delicious food using the best ingredients.

You obviously love food or you wouldn’t be doing the job your do with the passion you have about it… What would you say was your favourite sin food?

Something I eat far too much of which is very bad for you would have to be a cheese sandwich.

That’s it? A cheese sandwich?

Well you say that but I probably have at least three or four of them every day….. not very healthy.

Wow, ok so that is not exactly the healthiest of diets, we love cheese but even we would struggle with that many….. So what is the strangest food that you have ever eaten yourself?

I once had chickens feet, the actual feet with the nail on it. I bought it from a chap in Hong Kong, he had a little stall on the front of it motorbike and he was selling chickens feet with all these different pickles and things. It was different, a bit gristly, but I ate them, just because it was there..

So what is the most eventful meal you have ever prepared?

I once cooked a crown of lamb for the Queen Mother. I worked in a student hostel in London back in the seventies. She had a dinner for 60 people .

Wow, the Queen Mother, that is a claim to fame. Did everything go ok or did a few things go wrong?

No the pastry on the apple pie was a bit soft and she didn’t eat it but the rest of the meal went down very well.

So when you get home, are you fed up of cooking or do you cook at home as well?

No, I do the cooking at home

And what sort of things are cooked at home?

Anything with meat. It’s mainly healthy, perhaps a little too much red meat but it’s quite healthy. There again I probably only cook two or three times a week at home so I’m sure it wont do me any harm.

As a chef what is the one ingredient at  that you could not live without ?

Eggs, you have got to have eggs. You can do anything with eggs.

And your most overrated ingredient?

Balsamic vinegar. I think it is a little arty farty haha

So what is the strangest food request you have ever had?

I once cooked duck for one of  Elton Johns road managers or something. He had a whole duck, he was quite intoxicated and asked me to cook him this a whole duck. When I took it out to him he just poured tomato ketchup all over it.

So obviously you are a passionate chef now. It is obvious you love what you do, but is there something when you were younger you wanted to do instead?

When I was at school I really wanted to be a carpenter. I applied at the Tech College who had three places available for carpentry but I didn’t get in so then I ran away to sea and that’s how I got into cooking. I went to Southampton and got on a cruise liner when I was about 15 and it was through that, I found my love for cooking.

Who is the chef that you would say that you most admire?

Either of the two Roux brothers, Albert or Michel. They started off the proper food movement in London back in the 60s and 70s. The best thing they have taught me, is get used to the hours because it is quite unsociable being a chef.

What would your idea of food hell be?

Anything in a take away shop. It’s horrible.

Do you have a favourite food that you consider to be healthy?

A nice Iceburg Lettuce on its own. Beautiful. Or of course as a side order to a cheese sandwich…

So we have reached the end of your interrogation today for Meet The Chefs, but before we sign off, is there anything else you would like to say about the food at The Castle Inn?

Just come on down and try it. We have great food and a great menu. Everything is cooked fresh and we pride ourselves on that. Stop in a give is a try.