Hello, I’m Simon Braz Senior Sous Chef at the Haven Hotel in Sandbanks I have been working for the company for 6 years now. I started in a kitchen like most chefs as a kitchen porter. Then, when I left school I went to college and studied for 3 years at Eastbourne College. I then worked in a few different restaurants, pubs and hotels. I didn’t really hit my creative groove until I moved to bournemouth and was able to work with my incredible boss Jason Hornbuckle.
Jason has such an amazing teaching style and incredible palate. He really pushed me to hone my skills and encouraged me when I wanted to do Stages in different kitchens. So, I took the opportunity to work for one week at The Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Tom Kerridge’s Two Michelin star pub. It was an outstanding experience, Tom Kerridge is as nice in the kitchen as he is in person and his food was outstanding. In one week he really showed me how simple bold flavours can be really outstanding.
As I progressed in my career I got the opportunity to do another Stage at Gidleigh Park with Two Michelin starred chef Micheal Wignall. WOW!!!! That is an outstanding place!! The hotel was incredible and Micheal Wignalls food is something else, so complex and with so many layers of flavour. After that with my wife and I travelled to Japan and ate in some incredible restaurants. We even had the privilege of eating at Restaurant Ishikawa, which holds 3 Michelin stars.
My cooking style has evolved a lot but ultimately its always been about big and bold flavours. Using great ingredients and local where possible to achieve something truly delicious. I always like to challenge myself to use every part of an ingredient; even something as simple as a Whole Duck, using the breasts for the restaurant, the legs and wings for terrines, livers for parfait, the fillets for duck crackers, and the carcass for stocks and sauces – nothing goes to waste! Always ask yourself what can I do with this? What can I put this with to give the customer a better dining experience?
Also, the use of great ingredients and Nurtured in Norfolk deliver that in droves. Bunched Basil Herb and Bunched Coriander have always been some of my favourites, and of course wild garlic when it comes into season.