10 minutes with Chef Patron Sat Bains

26th June 2024

Sat Bains is a household name; a multi-award-winning chef, critically acclaimed cookbook author and mentor on MasterChef The Professionals.

Chef Patron Sat’s exceptional cuisine champions British artisan producers and allows him to create dishes which make the most of cutting-edge culinary techniques.

Ahead of joining us at The Wild Rabbit for a very special supper club, Sat talks to us about his love of food, his favourite ingredients and why sustainability is so close to his heart.

What was food like when you were growing up?

Food was an amazing part of my childhood and heritage coming from a Punjabi Sikh household, we would always sit around the table and eat together, twice a day, we were never allowed to eat away from the table and I think this is why I love restaurants so much.

We would eat mainly Punjabi vegetarian food throughout the week, and as a treat we would have bangers and mash on Wednesdays and fish and chips on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays were meat curries.

Your restaurant, books and mentorship have inspired thousands of chefs and cooks alike. What first sparked your love of food and cooking?

I think having a very creative outlook has helped, my first passion was art, I went to college to see what I could sign up for so as not to work in my father’s shop. So, when I saw the biggest queue of girls all signing up for a cookery course I followed, luckily, I did as I found my calling. My passion for art is still at the fore and I have just changed my medium to food, I always strive to be as original or thought provoking as possible and don’t always want to take the easiest route most trodden.

What was the first dish you learnt to cook? And what is your favourite dish to cook now?

This was chicken champignon, I was 17 and just met Amanda, now my wife, I was giddy to cook this for her, chicken supreme cooked in white wine, mushroom and cream, we still have it at least once a year mainly near our anniversary.

Do the changing trends influence the way you do things in your own restaurant?

Trends will always have some influence on the way we work or cook, look at molecular gastronomy and the super localised foraging from Noma, but you must always stay true to your core values of what you believe is a solid identity, that’s what you become known for and what guests like.

We have never followed but tried to stay in our lane here at the restaurant, I love curiosity, travel and being inquisitive about gastronomy and ultimately creating a unique Restaurant Sat Bains style of food.

You started your own urban kitchen garden over 10 years ago and have a closed-composting system, how important is cooking and living sustainably to you, and how does it influence the choices you make?

This was a real shift for the positive, cooking and running a restaurant has a lot of baggage from deliveries and just the sheer amount of waste; so we set about mitigating this with, closed loop composting, solar energy, grey water collection through water butts, EV chargers and ultimately moving to a 4-day week in 2015. Growing our own intense flavoured herbs, having beehives and now only opening 5 services a week all go towards sustaining the correct balance for us.

What inspires your creativity when developing your menus?

I’m fortunate that I am easily motivated, and creativity can come from so many forms, by an ingredient, a technique or even a word or picture. I then doodle most of the dishes as I am better at visualisation and then work out how we are going to prepare and cook the dish.

After suffering a major heart attack during Covid, you consequently radically changed your diet, what are the biggest learnings from rediscovering your approach to food?

I have learnt a lot and am still learning. We all look at a major illness as a drawback but I have come to terms with my mortality. The key things I have learnt is, eat well, eat a very diverse group of foods, working with Dr Neil Williams from Nottingham Trent University has been invaluable, eat with moderation and take nothing off the table, enjoy everything, some less than others obviously, my genetic makeup holds on to cholesterol, so I have to be careful, I also take medication to help this.

I have never felt more vigour for life, I like spending time with Amanda and with friends and the biggest gift we all have is time, so let’s not waste it.

Which ingredients do you consider staples – things you always have in your cupboards or fridge?

I love meat, game, fish and vegetables but eggs are my staple, I can eat up to 30 a week.

I always have Kimchi in the fridge and full fat mayonnaise and pickled ginger.

Favourite cuisine?

Japanese and haute cuisine of the grand 3-star Michelin kind you can only find in France, I have a love affair with French gastronomy.

You have referenced being given sound advice when you were a young chef, to have a five and a ten year plan, what projects are you working on for the next five years?

There are a couple of top-secret ones for now, so can’t say much yet, but I think it is paramount to have a direction with a timeline, but not to get too hung up on it, as you know, I never nearly made it. We just don’t know when our time is up but get as much out of this life as possible, be nice, be firm, be disciplined and be fair. But most of all have fun…!!!

Having worked under world-famous chefs including Raymond Blanc, Sat went on to win the Roux Scholarship, before securing a place in the kitchen of the three Michelin starred Restaurant Le Jardin de Sens in the South of France. He returned to the UK to open his own Michelin-starred Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms in 2002. Notably, this was the first establishment in Nottingham to win a star, followed by a second star in 2011 and a Green Michelin Star in 2021.

Sat will bring his decades of experience and focus on the textures, tastes and techniques of modern gastronomy to The Wild Rabbit kitchen, partnering with Executive Chef Sam Bowser to deliver a show stopping six course autumnal menu. To discover more about the supper club or to book, click below.

Photography by Jodi Hinds.

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