Both his mother and grandmother were experienced cooks, working in London restaurants, and his grandmother with the legendary Constance Spry at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, where she later taught.
He did a four year apprenticeship in Canberra and Melbourne, returning to the UK where his first job was at Lindsay House in Soho with Richard Corrigan. He later honed his foraging habit as sous chef to the legendary Kobe Desramualts at the Michelin-starred In De Wulf restaurant in Belgium. After that folded he’s been cooking off the beaten track – in his own words, firmly based in the middle of nowhere.
Brooke-Taylor and his partner, the gifted sommelier Aimee Turford, were hunting for their own place and found the Moorcock, a battered old boozer on the moors above Halifax. In the space of two weeks, they stripped it back and gussied it up and installed a five-ton smokehouse and industrial-grade grill in the car park. It’s where Brooke-Taylor turns everything from rare breed Hebridean sheep and Arctic char from a Dorset chalk stream, to hogweed seeds from the hedgerow into dishes that make your head spin.
What’s the first thing you remember cooking? Scrambling eggs and juicing oranges for Saturday breakfast. In the summer my family would spend most weekends at the coast. It was a four-hour drive (a small distance in Australia) but nobody felt like cooking once we arrived, but getting up early the next day to cook eggs for everyone signalled the start of the weekend before heading straight to the beach.
Who is your culinary inspiration? Kobe Desramualts had a huge influence on me and the way I approach food and cooking. Also Michel Bras, the first chef I’d heard of to be really focused on vegetables as the highlight of his cooking. His most celebrated dish has been on his menu for 30 years but the ingredients of it change every single day.
Do you use cookery books? Mrs Beeton! The copy I’ve got is about 150 years old and it’s falling apart, but I refer to it all the time. I’ve had Michel Bras’ book for years and still discover something I haven’t seen before each time I pick it up.
Who is round your dream dinner party table? For great stories, perspectives and adventures: Hunter S Thompson, Sir Michael Palin, Sir David Attenborough and Louis Theroux.
What piece of kit couldn’t you live without? A good set of knives. Bit of a boring answer, but good knives can make the difference between how something looks and even tastes. Bad knives bruise food and you can achieve better texture with a great knife.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Ice cream. My diet is pretty healthy generally, but I’m borderline out of control with ice cream.
How are you handling the current situation? Until we’ve worked out the best, safest way to welcome our customers back we’re a shop and a provider of breakfast hampers, which include homemade Danish pastries, yoghurt pots and berries from the garden, duck fat hash browns and house-made sausages and bacon. At our “stall” outside the pub on Saturday mornings we sell fresh fish, organic veg and homemade juices – so we’re keeping busy.
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