Chris is a familiar face here at Cactus Kitchens where he can often be found Cooking the Roux Way with students who appreciate his calm and steady demeanour. But in his downtime, Chris likes nothing better than to crank up the pace a gear or three and take to the open road on two wheels in the slipstream of his cycling hero Geraint Thomas.
Serious cycling, like restaurant cooking, ain’t for slouches. And while a perfectly pitched plate of warm veal terrine, pickled girolles, confit egg yolk and tarragon seems worlds away from glucose gels and protein bars, professional cooking like professional cycling is an endurance occupation. One involves a lot more Lycra, but they both take hard graft: cyclist and chef alike need stamina and strong legs to pedal up hill and down dale or stand all day in a hot and frantic kitchen.
A daily cycle commute to the restaurant soon turned into a passion as the urge to go ever faster took hold. Now, Chris is never happier than when he’s out on the open road. When he’s not in the kitchen, you’re most likely to find the chef whizzing through the lanes of Essex and Hertfordshire - the attraction of cycling says Chris, is the freedom on two wheels and that you can get so far so quickly. And his favourite place to cycle? “The very best for me is Yorkshire– God’s own country.” (And, for connoisseurs of baked goods, home of the fat rascal, the teacake and the Yorkshire curd tart to name a few.)
Being a chap who pays such attention to detail in his cooking, it’s no surprise that Chris is particular about the bike he rides: a made to measure Pretorius with a Campag groupset and Chris King hubs (naturally), “my namesake - the best you can buy!”
And besides keeping fit, cycling says Chris “certainly clears the mind and gives you time to think.” It also makes space for creative ideas. Many a menu has been written while out on the bike. So diners tucking into one of his exquisite plates of food should be grateful that cycling keeps the creative cogs turning.
Chris prefers a more modest snack for the road than the dishes he serves to his customers: Shreddies with whole almonds and raisins; and when there's Christmas cake around, he's never without a slice in his pocket.
And his future ambitions? Chris is a rising star in the kitchen, there’s no doubt, but on the road, this downhill racer has big dreams, “I'd love to ride the Alpe d'Huez in France (on the day of the Tour for extra ambience).” We’ll be queuing up to taste the menu inspired by that rollercoaster ride.
Join Chris King to Cook the Roux way with dates throughout the year.