Paul Stranger is the executive chef at Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL Club. He enjoys being innovative in the kitchen and brings a wealth of experience to the club having worked throughout Europe, the UK and South Africa, he has also been awarded a prestigious Michelin Star (at Cafe Uno in Bath, UK) and ‘Best Italian Restaurant’ in London. Here he chats to Ciao about his work, food and how he started out in the kitchen…
How long have you been in the food industry and what first made you want to become a chef?
I have been in the industry for over 30 years. Food was always a major part of family entertainment in my household, and growing up we would eat out on average four times a week. It was also the crazy pressure of commercial kitchens, which I found similar to the military, that I was drawn to. I seem to thrive on that. I guess it really began when I applied for a bursary in food management after being injured in the military. ‘Cheffing’ was a passport to the world…
What do you enjoy most about your job at Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL?
I enjoy the diversity of food served, and the staff are great. The staff and management really care about each other and the work they do, for most people it really is more than just a job.
What international cuisines influence your cooking style?
I am very much influenced by Italian and Asian cuisines mostly because of the simplicity and use of fresh ingredients.
What four ingredients are essential in your kitchen?
I can’t go without basil, good olive oil, garlic and soybean chilli paste.
What inspires your work?
I think I have always had a passion for authentic fresh food and I love good, old-fashioned cooking methods. I also find the science of food fascinating as its always evolving.
If you could invite anyone over for dinner, whom would you invite and why?
It would have to be Heston Blumenthal so I can pick his brain on food science.
Potato and feta salad
150g chat potatoes
100g Persian feta
80g fresh corn
80g sugar snap peas
80g roast pumpkin
20ml chilli oil
1. Roast your pumpkin and chat potatoes in your oven.
2. Steam your peas and corn.
3. Mix all your cooked ingredients together in bowl, add the feta and a drizzle of chilli oil.
4. Serve with toasted crusty bread and enjoy!