Phil Howard's Year in Food

Chef Phil Howard talks to us about his favourite seasonal produce, star recipes and why we should always go with our gut...

Phil Howard

January has begun and a new year lies ahead – after the decadence of the Christmas period, what do you think makes a good foodie new year’s resolution? 
Back to balance - a bit of everything in moderation. And 1.5 litres of water a day.

We’re all about healthy eating at the start of the year – do you have any of your own healthy eating tips for our users?
Make sure there is plenty of green on every plate of food you eat.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse for a slap-up meal. What’s your idea of a romantic feast for two? Oysters, caviar, small steak, chocolate.

Steak Every year we see our steak content rocket in popularity around Valentine’s Day – from beef cut to chip style, what would be your ultimate steak dinner? Valentines requires elegance, so dry-aged fillet, chips, bone marrow and salad.

Our users love Pancake Day – what’s your serving style of choice come Shrove Tuesday… and where do you stand on the filling situation? 
Plain pancake, rhubarb compote, granulated sugar and pouring cream.

 We tend to tighten up our food spend in February. What are your tips for cooking on a budget?
It's cold, head for the cheap, slow-cooking cuts.

Spring sees us celebrating Mother’s Day. What influence does your family have over your cooking? We’re talking first meals right through to what you like to eat with your family nowadays.
Lemon surprise pudding is never far away. It was my mothers treat for me on birthdays and the odd Sunday. Home cooking always has a place. This is food to nourish the soul.

Spring is also a time to clean our kitchens of clutter – but what piece of kitchen kit would you never part with and what’s your favourite thing to make with it? 
A powerful blender for purées and soups.

MeringueAs soon as the sun shines, we dust off our barbecues. How do you go about throwing a truly sizzlin’ al fresco spread? And what do you do when the weather fails you? Resist the temptation to do too much. One stunning cut of meat or fish, two salads and fresh dressings and mayos. And simple puds - meringues, wonderful chantilly cream and fruit.

What would we find in your picnic basket on a hot summer’s day?
Salmon, Jersey Royal and asparagus salad.

Summer time means a nice relaxing holiday for lots of us – what’s your ultimate foodie travel destination, and what do you eat when you’re there?
South of France. Figs

September is back to school season – what do you think we should be teaching the future generation about cooking and eating? 
Keep it seasonal, local, fresh and simple.

We love a touch of ghoulish cooking action on Halloween, and we particularly love creating a spooky pumpkin. What’s your tip for carving a squash – and what do you do with the surplus flesh?
We do watermelons as they glow red in the interior. Carving pumpkins aren't ones to eat!

ParkinBonfire night is all about bangers, parkin and gathering around a fire with marshmallows – what do you cook when the fireworks are flying?
Exactly that!

The year culminates in the ultimate foodie event – Christmas. What’s your ultimate foodie Christmas present? A black truffle.

Talk us through your Christmas Day experience – from breakfast choices right through to the post-lunch snooze on the sofa.
No breakfast but a simple brunch with poached eggs and smoked salmon, the full classic late lunch and a mince pie before bed.

Everyone loves a party to celebrate New Year’s Eve. What’s your choice of tipple to raise at midnight? And what’s your ultimate party menu?
Vintage fizz at midnight and beef Wellington for dinner.

Looking back over the year that just passed, what’s your favourite foodie season in terms of ingredients – and how do you like to cook the season’s golden haul?
Autumn. The game, the mushrooms, the root veg and white truffles. They all just go so wonderfully together.

Looking to the year ahead, what trends do you see emerging in the food world? 
Cooking with too much contribution from the ego and braun and not enough from the gut.

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