Nick Morrish, BA
You might not be familiar with Simon Hulstone but you soon will be. He's head chef at The Elephant restaurant in Torquay and in 2006, Simon and his team won Torquay its first Michelin star, he's represented the country in many culinary competitions, including the prestigious Bocuse d'Or, and he's now flying (literally) the flag as the chef for BA during the Olympics. For someone who's got a mammoth task ahead of them, Simon Hulstone is taking his new role in his stride.
Congrats on becoming the BA representative - this is an exciting time for you.
Thanks very much, yes, there's so much going on, it's hard to get your head around it really. It's been a bit of a whirlwind especially with them whizzing me off to LA and stuff! It's a bit rock 'n' roll isn't it?!
How would you describe your style of cooking?
I can't really say that I'm a certain style but in Torquay we try to keep our food as local as possible. Luckily Devon has some of the best produce that I can imagine, so we buy locally and at the fish market we go for sustainability.
Is this something you want to bring to the BA menu?
Yes, it's something I know BA is very passionate about as well. We're shouting out about the best of British food - obviously not everything will come from Devon but we will encompass the best of British - definitely, without a doubt.
What were your views on plane food before you started?
Matt Dunham-Associated Press
Chef Simon Hulstone is tasked with creating the menu to serve one million meals during the Olympics in 2012
It's not something that I really noticed to be honest with you, it was just something that filled the time and that's an aspect that I want to look into because I really want to make it part of the journey, something that people will look forward to during the flight. And for me that's a challenge, I want people to go away and talk about the food we produced.
Has learning about how they do it and the process of it been an eye-opener?
Very much so, we're very hands on here [in Torquay], we've gone from being a 60 cover restaurant to serving 100,000 [laughs], so it's slightly different! I've really got to look into the amount of food I'll be ordering as well, because if I use a certain cheese I could end up using a whole year's worth of stock from one supplier! There's so much to think about and you don't really understand it until you see it for yourself.
How did you get involved in the BA initiative?
I saw it advertised in the press and originally I looked at it for one of my members of staff, and then I thought, stuff them - I'll have a go! Ha, ha - but it was the part about representing Great Britain that appealed to me, I'm very patriotic.
How are the mentoring sessions going?
Very good, I went to LA with Heston and we had a good time catching up with ideas and noting down exactly what we should be looking at. We did a test which involved tasting a meal on the ground and in the air to see how it changed because of the environment and reheating limitations. And, in LA we went to two fantastic restaurants, one was a hot dog van and the other being Thomas Keller's Bouchon, so we went from two ends of the spectrum, you could almost look at it as economy to first class in some ways, both using the best quality ingredients and serving their market, it worked really well.
Are you looking forward to delivering it and seeing it on board a flight?
Yeah but I'm very nervous. I think as long as I can get BA staff fully behind it and excited about it then it'll be fine. But I am really, really looking forward to it.
How is it working with Heston?
Jonathan Short-British Airways
Hulstone is working alongsider Heston Blumenthal to create the menu
Brilliant. He's a true gentleman and he's such an approachable chef, there's absolutely no pretention about him at all. Working with him has been so fantastic, you've got an encyclopaedic knowledge of ideas in his head, I really can't think of a better chef to be working with.
He does get excited about what he does
Oh he's great, you can't shut him up! No, he's so good and you can ask him anything and he'll have an idea or a solution so that's the sort of person you want on your side. He's very unique in his own style and he's influenced so many young chefs in this country that he's keeping the industry going - he's brilliant.
Are you looking forward to the Olympics?
Yeah, I'd like to get my food out of the way and then I'd love to see some of it if I get the chance! I'll be shouting very loud for Britain, trust me!
With Heston taking him under his wing, we're sure that Simon's a chef to watch, you could say that his career is ready for take-off (ahem!)
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