Meet the chef: Liam Dillon

Liam is chef-owner of The Boat Inn in Lichfield who was recently named 'Best Chef' in the Midlands Food Drink & Hospitality Awards

You once said you wanted to join the marines but ended up a chef, what changed your mind?
I went to train at the College Of Food, now UCB, and I immediately fell in love with it. From the lecturers that wanted to show you everything to the great trips to France that I was lucky enough to be included in.

You’ve worked in some amazing kitchens including Eleven Madison Park and Daniel in New York and Noma in Copenhagen – plus Story in London – that must have been very inspirational for a young chef?
I took holiday from work to go and do stints and trials in different kitchens. I think it’s important to see how different kitchens operate and this has had a great impact on how I am trying to develop what we are growing here in Lichfield.

Running a restaurant at 31 is quite a challenge, what made you want to run your own business?
I’ve always wanted to have something of my own and have something to nurture and focus on. I’m extremely lucky to have my own restaurant despite it being a massive challenge every day to keep moving forward. I appreciate how fortunate I am.

Your signature dish?
We have beautiful lamb that’s raised in the midlands on our menu currently. It’s been tweaked and the guests love it. We have the lightly cooked loin; Slow cooked Shoulder, Crispy belly, Smoked Tomato Fondue, Salsa Verdi & Puffed Lamb Fat. A lot going on but it comes together so well.

Favourite ingredient?
I have to say crab, incredible Dorset brown crab. Love working with it and it’s something that will always be on the menu here.

Kitchen soundtrack?
Anything! Literally anything. Depends who gets on the speaker first. First day back something like Adele and then moving towards the end of the week it turns to more Eminem or 50 Cent!! Ha!

What is your vision for the pub?
The main focus is to create a quality, leading food and beverage offering in Lichfield. Although it would be a lie if I said I didn’t have aspirations for a Michelin star.

Where do you like to eat out when not working?
I usually stay around Lichfield as there is always things to be done in the restaurant when we are closed. Independent restaurants more often really or a pub lunch.

Words of wisdom to your younger self?
Enjoy the journey.
It can be a difficult trade to work in but you have to really capture the good and focus on what you have and not what you want. 

What would you be doing if not a chef?
Racing driver. I have a friend, Adam, that is a driver for AMG Mercedes. Jealous! Maybe one day I can take up racing as a hobby but who knows.

theboatinnlichfield.com

Photography: bacononthebeech.co.uk

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