Independent Stratford restaurant 33 The Scullery serves imaginative food prepared by head chef and co-owner Andrew Edwards. Here he tells the Herald about his Valentine’s menu
You’ve done a hard graft in Stratford to build up your well-deserved reputation. Remind us about opening 33 The Scullery.
My business partner Carl Pritchard and myself started talking opening a restaurant when our kids were at Wellesbourne school together. Carl worked in insurance and was about to retire so we decided the timing was right. We sort of got it together and set about opening the Scullery, it probably took three or four months.
I’ve always been in catering as a chef and a manager. Originally I’m from Redditch, I went to work in London before settling back here.
I sort of do the daily operations side, the menus and obviously the cooking. Carl deals with the other bits and pieces and business aspects. We work well as a team.
Can you just describe your food perhaps for people who don’t know it?
You hear ‘we’re trying to use local produce’ but we do! I’ve got a strong belief that food shouldn’t be messed around with too much. Our food is classical, tasty, well presented and there is always enough food.
The style is fresh and simply cooked but also tasty and different. For example I use locally picked medlars in some game dishes. They’re almost a cross between a plum and a rosehip. You have to wait until autumn until they’re ready to eat. There’s one tree in Stratford that people walk past every day and don’t even know what it is, and I’m not telling!
I’m passionate about making things different and fitting in with the seasons.
When did your passion for food emerge?
I remember going on a trip to Birmingham fish market with my grandad when I was about five. I was absolutely amazed by the rows and rows of market stalls filled to the brim with glistening fresh fish and seafood. When we got home grandad filleted, skinned and then pan-fried plaice with a touch of butter and salt. From that moment on I was hooked! That was my first love of cooking probably.
You’re usually busy at Valentine’s, what have you got planned for this year?
We’ve had a lot of bookings already for our menu, so there’s been a good uptake. We can deliver or customers just book a time to pick it up – it’s hot and ready to serve.
There are some key aspects to consider – the chocolate, the strawberries, champagne or some sort of alcohol. All the things that are associated with good food and a good feeling really.
You’ve got to have a good-feeling the menu – more so now with the takeaways people think ‘that will be really nice I can’t do that myself so we’ll treat ourselves’.
I work with a brilliant patisserie called Pinwheel. We came up between us the rose petal and pink gin cheesecake. It is lovely. Gin is very fashionable and roses for Valentine’s. Not only do the flavours go together but it sounds good as well.
Are you doing anything different?
Yes I’m doing a slow-baked whole sharing camembert with garlic and rosemary and we are making our own cheese straws. We try and include variety so there’s also our own pate and king prawns, always popular, to start. As well as roasts, there’s a rich beef or mushroom stroganoff, a lovely Gloucester pork loin chop with creamy local cider, sage and apple sauce or a pan-fried salmon with chilli, coriander, prawns and lime butter.
What advice would you give to home chefs about preparing a romantic meal?
Don’t be too ambitious. Buy quality ingredients and just don’t do anything too complicated. Make sure it’s nicely seasoned – how it tastes is key obviously. Think about how it looks. Look at a restaurant website and get inspired by the presentation.
On a lot of dishes a simple garnish can make things make a whole lot different.
This is an edited version of a longer interview published in this week's Herald.