A classically trained chef, Darren studied at Le Touquet, France and Ostend Belgium before returning to the UK to begin his culinary career.
During his time Darren has cooked for royalty, overseen the largest banqueting operation in a London hotel and opened the internationally renowned convention centre, ExCeL.
How did you first get into being a chef?
Growing up on a farm meant I had been around food since I was five; if I wasn’t working with the animals or sowing the vegetables I was in the kitchen with my grandmother making lunch or dinner. So from 10 I was cooking and making bread and hand-raised pies as well as making brawn. I just fell into cooking from there and enjoyed the process of growing to cooking, and eating all the fresh produce. Because of my passion I went to college for three years as soon as I left school, and so the life began.
Tell us about your favourite place to eat in London?
A hard question! Really I have two places, each with different styles. The Ledbury – as great seasonal produce is the main element, dressed with delicate flavours to enhance the produce, plus the service is the best in London and they have a great wine list. But for a great food experience you can’t beat the Truck Stop in Canary Wharf when its on, this is street food at its best, great atmosphere, great people and amazing food in an urban setting, plus its great to see the old trucks!
What is your favourite thing to cook?
Tapas and seafood – I am lucky to have a family that loves seafood of all types and enjoys eating and entertaining. The thought of dozens of little pots and plates of different tapas on a table and the family and friends all around enjoying the wine and conversation really excites me, and with my parents living in Spain then I have no excuse on tapas styles.
Have you got a top cooking tip that we need to know?
How about some guidance! The tongue has around 10,000 taste buds on it, they can only pick up five different sensations: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, umami – savoury or meaty. It is your memory that dictates the taste, but with the taste buds only being able to taste one item at a time (or your taste would be very confused), when cooking only concentrate on one or two main flavours and then use enhancers to complete the dish such as herbs, flowers, spices etc.