Recently, I caught up with Ronnie Murray, Group Head Chef at Hix to delve into his world. Read on to find out more about apple pies, roof tiles – and chickens bottoms…
Q&A With Hix’s Group Head Chef Ronnie Murray
When did you first realise you had a flair for cooking?
I’m not sure I realised I had a flair exactly, but my earliest memory in life is being in my grandmother’s kitchen when I was a very small child, pretending to make pasta. This involved weighing out dried pasta on old fashioned scales, tipping it into a pan and pretending to cook. I’m sure I was in my grandmother’s way but I’m also sure she never complained.
Did you have a signature dish or two in the early days?
When I was about 14 or 15 I won a local cooking competition for a tarragon chicken dish. This is probably as close as I came to a signature dish back then and I feel certain neither my Mum or Dad have eaten tarragon chicken since. Nowadays I’m well known at Hix for Ronnie’s apple pie, which is on most of the restaurants menus.
Where did you grow up and the area have any effect on your love for food?
I grew up in Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, famous for the duck. I worked at Waddesdon Manor which is a National Trust property formerly owned by the Rothchild family; they had a passion for old menus and recipes and have a world famous dessert table set up in one of the rooms as a museum piece. This is probably where I picked up my passion for old recipe books and a love of re-creating lost and forgotten dishes.
Recently you took part in Scope’s End the Awkward Campaign. How did you find the experience; were there any ‘awkward moments’ while you were making the film?
Scope is a fantastic charity and I am still very much involved in its awareness work. To be honest, the most awkward questions I’ve been asked in my life have been by representatives from the charity. This is mainly due to the fact that I have been very fortunate in my life of meeting people who judge you by your personality and ability rather than your appearance; however, I have come to realise that this isn’t the case for everybody. I might get to get a little bit more awkward for Scope, as their latest campaign is all about sex and disability.
You must have seen all sorts of weird and wonderful things during your career. What’s the funniest or most bizarre thing you’ve ever encountered in the kitchen?
Yes, over the years lots of odd things have happened. I once had a chap who worked for me and didn’t realise that an egg came from a chicken’s backside; when he found out, he refused to ever handle one again.
What would you say has been the proudest moment in your culinary career so far?
It’s exceptionally difficult to put my finger on one specific incident, but I think the biggest satisfaction is seeing people who have trained with me over the years go on to have great careers themselves. After all, The most important thing in any kitchen is the team.
Is there anything culinary related (like a particular food, fad or trend) that gets your goat?
Water baths, foams, gels, swipes on plates – but above all, food not served on a plate. I mean, how can you eat gravy from a roof tile?
You are Group Head Chef at Hix. What’s a typical working day like in the life of Ronnie Murray (if there is such a thing)?
No two days are ever the same; that’s what makes the day interesting.
And last but not least, what things have you got lined up for the not so distant future?
An appearance on a TV cookery show that I’m not allowed to talk about!