Tom Kerridge, guest chef in The Lock for the Quilter Internationals talks about his love of rugby and what guests can look forward to on his menu this November.
Describe your background as a rugby fan… how did it all begin?
I'm from Gloucester, my earliest memory was playing for school in the local club as an 11 year old and heading into town to play.
Most significant memory while following the sport?
The first time watching an international match was at Twickenham, England v Scotland when I was 12 years old. The atmosphere was fantastic, the noise was phenomenal but also, any time Gloucester play Bath.
If you could choose any rugby player, past or present, to dine with, who would it be and why?
Mike Teague - Gloucester's formidable capital and also player of the series in the 1989 Lions tour of Australia. A true Gloucester legend.
You will be cooking for The Lock at Twickenham Stadium. What impresses you most about the restaurant?
The sheer scale of it all, the setting and the fact that so much effort has been put into the design so that it operates to such a high standard.
The Quilter Internationals… four matches, four nations, four menus - what defines each country when it comes to food?
South Africa: South African food is often seen as very robust strong flavours, very similar to their wines. Everything cooked on braai and the idea of dried meat, such as biltong which is something we are using in our menu as one of the canapés.
New Zealand: New Zealand is widely recognised around the world for having some fantastic lamb, and whilst I wholeheartedly agree that it is one of its best products, we are definitely using British lamb in our menu, just with a nod to our New Zealand friends.
Japan: Japanese cooking is seen around the world as one of the finest cuisines, incredibly individual with robust and strong flavours. Very light to the touch and very focused. We are using a little nod to Japanese cuisine with togarashi.
Australia: Australia has a phenomenal reputation for one of the most vibrant food scenes in the world with Melbourne and Sydney leading the way with great chefs with the food style being lifestyle led. Australian cuisine goes way beyond BBQs on the beach and their drinks scene, with wine and craft beers in particular, on an upwards trend.
What are you most excited about with each menu? Any teasers?
We are really excited about all the menus, each one is different and each game you need a slightly different mentality. Most of all, we need to enjoy taking part, just like the game!
Which sources of inspiration did you look to when devising each menu?
Seasonality, country of origin and ensuring that we keep the rugby fans happy! It's the same as any menu you put together for a restaurant, except this one means we need to do it on a grand scale whilst also being a part of the day's enjoyment.
Which ingredients are you enjoying working with at the moment? What's on-trend, and have you incorporated this into creating these menus?
We always work with the seasons and we are very lucky in Britain that we do have four defined seasons where the menu can change. Autumn and winter time is probably my favourite, as I am huge fan of roasted meats and root vegetables.
Food and drink pairings. Any recommendations for your menu in The Lock?
I have to be honest, I have never really been one for pairing drink with food, I believe you should eat the things that you enjoy and drink whatever you like with it. If you want red wine with your fish, or you want a beer with your fish, when eating out it should always be about your own personal enjoyment. However, we have skilled staff and people to advise and assist you if you do want people to point you in the right direction.
If there was a World Cup of wine, which country would win it? If not selected, which country between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa?
If there was a World Cup of wine, like most games, it really does come down to what happens on the day. Classic and bold, you are always looking at the French, but if you want new world creativity, Australia does fantastically. Big powerful and punchy, South Africa. Crisp and fruity, it's hard to beat a New Zealand wine. If you're looking for a real alternative, take a sake from Japan, or even one of their whiskeys.