Interviews

In Conversation with Head Chef, Tristan Welch - Part 2

Last month, we spoke to our good friend Tristan Welch, Head Chef at Parker’s Tavern, Cambridge, and we heard all about his incredible career, from conversations in bars to Michelin stars. Now, he’s back to answer a series of quick fire questions and to provide you with the secret to making the perfect Tarte Tatin! Let’s find out more about Tristan…

The Cambridge Satchel Co.

Hi Tristan! What are three words to describe yourself?


Tristan Welch

It. Is. Complicated. *Laughs*


CSC

Something about you that surprises people?


TW

Every year we dress up the house in Halloween stuff and we go for it, big time. And I'm not a bad pumpkin carver either.


CSC

Favourite food pun?


TW

Oh, I'm just so cheesy. I'm a proper dad now so I’ve got to be. During lockdown we had cook-alongs where we'd give a spaghetti bolognese kit away as a prize for the best food related joke. It was so funny. Everybody was really into it. I’m going to find some of them. I’m so glad you asked this question.


What do you call a huge hen house? an eggplant.

Why couldn't the sesame seed leave a casino? Because he was on a roll.

What do you call a sheep covered in chocolate? A candy baaa.

How did the burger propose to the fry? With an onion ring.


*Laughs* I could go on.

Parker's Tavern, Cambridge.

CSC

Your role model?


TW

I think it's really important to have more than one role model in life. I would say:


Michel Roux Jr. for kitchen management,

Keith Floyd for sheer passion,

Gary Rhodes for his love of British originality,

Classic French cuisine for my grounding,

… and Joe Wicks for positivity.


So I'm a complete melting pot, really.


CSC

A song to describe your life?


TW

Hold On, I’m Comin’ by Sam & Dave.


CSC

Craziest lockdown purchase?


TW

Secretly, I'm a big kid, so lockdown didn’t really make a difference in terms of that. The craziest thing I got in lockdown was actually a present, and that was an adult pair of Heelys. Sometimes I did security shifts during lockdown here. Occasionally, I might have worn my Heelys and buzzed around the corridors. It was just a bit quicker. Of course that might not have happened though.


CSC

Of course not. What do you collect?


TW

I collect antique cookbooks, funny kitchen utensils, and shells and stones. I get in trouble for those last two. But I like those things because when I look at them I remember that day, and which beach we were on, etc. They bring back nice memories.


CSC

Three things that make you smile?


TW

My boys, delicious looking food, young people doing well. And a good beautiful glass of crisp champagne (that’s four things, but we’ll forgive you, Tristan!).


CSC

Beer or wine?


TW

It's like trying to choose your favourite child, but I would have to go for wine.


CSC

Starter or dessert?


TW

Gosh...starter.


CSC

Thoughts on Pot Noodles?


TW

Ugh! Next question.


CSC

In your professional opinion, is a Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit?


TW

Good question.


I wouldn't worry yourself with the categorisation of it. I'd worry more about if you like them or not.

The University Arms, Cambridge

CSC

Tell me about a meal or food that...


...Reminds you of your childhood.


TW

Oh, so much. Fresh peas and runner beans, fresh eggs from the chickens. You can see why, as a chef, a beautiful array of ingredients that come straight from the garden to the table, that magical flavour that they have, that little sort of something extra that they have, always reminds me of home.


CSC

...You would cook for the Queen.


TW

Whatever ma'am would like!


CSC

...you hate but everybody else loves.


TW

White sliced bread.


CSC

It’s not the best thing since sliced bread?!


TW

No! No, it's not the best thing since sliced bread. I just don't like it. It's not my thing.


CSC

A meal that anyone could make.


TW

Tarte Tatin! Tarte Tatin is one of those dishes that has a lot of impact, but with only four ingredients. So that's butter, apples, sugar and puff pastry. Equal quantities of butter and sugar, peel your apples, place them on top of the butter and the sugar, add the puff pastry on top and pop it in the oven for at least an hour.


The trick is to cook it for at least an hour. You want the sugar and butter and apples to caramelize. Anyone can make it but you've got to have the confidence to cook it that long.


CLASSIC APPLE TARTE TATIN

Ingredients:


For small: 80g butter

80g sugar

8 half apples Braeburn


For large: 120g butter

120g sugar

13 half apples Braeburn


Rolled puff pastry (enough to cover the top).

You will need 1 x 15-18cm or 20-25cm in diameter pan for this recipe.

Method:

  1. Turn the oven up to 180°C.

  2. Evenly spread the butter on the bottom of a cold heavy based pan and cover with the sugar. Arrange the apples neatly in the pan.

  3. Cut the puff pastry to the size of the pan and place on top of the apples. Tuck it around the side. Make a small hole in the centre of the pastry.

  4. Place on the stove and cook gently until the caramel around the side starts to go a light brown. Place in a hot oven at 180°C and allow 60-70minutes for the pastry to cook properly.

  5. Serve with loads of clotted cream.

You can follow Tristan on Instagram here and Parker’s Tavern here. For enquiries and bookings, please visit https://universityarms.com/ or https://parkerstavern.com/.