Kitchen Reporter – Carol Blamire – Aikton Arms
Head chef and owner at the Aikton Arms, Carol Blamire unexpectedly stumbled upon her love of cooking while in Europe. She worked in France before returning home to train and now enjoys nothing more than bringing everyone together over a prime cut of meat, with all the trimmings.
How long have you been a chef?
For about 10 years, I got into it accidentally to begin with and then did the training after that. I went travelling around Europe in a campervan and got a job on a ski resort in a chalet, that’s when I got into cooking. When I came back to England I did the training.
How long have you been at the Aikton Arms?
I’ve been here 8 years now. I was at Bar Solo on Botchergate in Carlisle for a year and before that I worked abroad. I mainly worked in France but travelled in Italy and Spain too.
What does food mean to you?
Food to me means good times. It’s a celebration of spending time with family and friends, getting everyone together and enjoying yourself.
What is your favourite ingredient to cook with and why?
At this time of year I quite like cooking with game. It’s getting near the game season now, so I’m quite looking forward to that starting. What I enjoy cooking with can change throughout the year.
What’s the strangest ingredient you’ve ever cooked with?
Sweetbreads is probably the strangest ingredient, I wanted to see what they were like. Sweetbreads are two different glands from the lamb, which are very nice poached then breaded & fried & served up with ciabatta and butter. They are definitely not to every ones taste but I do like to try out new recipes.
What’s your signature dish?
I really enjoy making a Sunday lunch with a roast sirloin. I love picking a really good cut of meat and doing all the sides and bringing everything together.
Where do you get your inspiration for your menu?
From eating out in other restaurants in my spare time and seeing what others are doing, as well as reading magazines. I also get inspiration from whatever ingredients are in season.
Do you have a favourite cuisine?
Yes, I love Italian.
If you weren’t a chef what would you be doing?
I would probably still be going from job to job, I did all sorts of things before becoming a chef. I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I fell into it by accident. I’d never dreamt before that this would be what I wanted to do, but when I started cheffing it just felt right.
Who would be your fantasy dinner party guests?
Fantasy dinner party guests for me would have to be Jennifer Saunders & Joanna Lumley, I was a huge Ab Fab fan and I think they would have some very interesting stories about their lives to tell. And Lady GaGa, as I love her music and she stands for a lot of interesting causes.
How do you like to unwind?
We’ve got dogs, so I like to take them for a walk. And I do love going out for a meal and having someone else cook for me.