Kitchen Re-Porter – Carlin’s Bar & Bistro
Kitchen Re-Porter – Carlin’s Bar & Bistro @ The Allerdale Court Hotel
Catherine Swanton is the head chef at Carlin’s Bar & Bistro in Cockermouth.
A chef for 27 years she has travelled the world sampling global gastronomy and sharpening her skills before settling in Cockermouth at Carlin’s Bar & Bistro. Catherine says: “I’ve been all over as a chef it’s important to take in the different cuisines around the world and I’m food mad so it’s the perfect job for me”.
What is your first memory of the kitchen?
My first memory of the kitchen is watching my great grandmother who was a confectioner making flat cake; I can remember her weighing out all the ingredients with really old fashioned measuring spoons.
What is the strangest ingredient you’ve ever cooked with?
Abalone (sea snail) whilst I was in New Zealand, it’s a type of shell fish from which you get mother of pearl. Generally you stew or flash fry it, but it’s pretty weird to look at.
What is your favourite type of cuisine?
I love Mediterranean food; I find it hard to pin down exactly which country as I love both Italian and Greek food. But I think you can’t beat a good bit of British cooking as well.
What is your favourite restaurant to eat at anywhere in the world?
A tiny little seafront restaurant in Corfu called the Black Pearl, it was beautiful, the sun was setting over the horizon, I was drinking really cold wine and I had the most amazing Papardelle in a vodka and cream sauce served with Lobster and Caviar; it’s something I’ll never forget
Who is your favourite celebrity chef?
I like Marcus Wareing, he’s a very old school and traditional, he’s a classic chef and he’s quite easy on the eye
Do you spend a lot of time in the kitchen at home?
I do, I’m a single mum so I cook a lot for my 11-year-old daughter, we both like Tapas style things so I cook a lot of those and pasta dishes and also one pot cooking, things like beef stews always go down well.
What is your ultimate comfort food?
Well I like pasta, but probably also anything slow cooked with lots of gravy or a nice roast dinner.
What is your idea of food hell?
I can’t stand fresh coriander, I know when I’ve made a good carrot and coriander soup because I won’t like it and cheese and onion pie, it brings back terrible memories of bad primary school dinners, luckily I have a soux chef who is excellent at making it.
What is your favourite ingredient to cook with?
It would have to be fresh basil. Fresh basil gives anything a lovely fresh punch when added at the end of a meal.
What would be your last supper?
I’d start with Eggs Benedict, followed by a good curry for the main with all the side dishes that come with it. For dessert it would have to be my grandmother’s bread and butter pudding and finished off with cheese and biscuits. Well if I’m going to have a last supper I’m going to do it properly.