Curtis Stewart, Restaurant 23, Leamington
At only 29 years old, Curtis no stranger to fine dining, with his culinary career talking him from luxury Cotswolds hotel Foxhill Manor and the two Michelin-starred Whatley Manor in Wiltshire to Quill in Manchester.
As he is now heading up Leamington’s Restaurant 23, I got the chance to find out about the ‘guy who just cooks the food’.
Have you always wanted to be a chef?
Always. From a very young age, I knew I wanted to cook for a living; think I was around 8 years old.
Who taught you to cook?
My Grandmothers. Coming from a mixed race background, (Jamaican and English) both my parents’ families were great cooks and I would always help out over the weekends.
Which chef has been the biggest inspiration for you?
John Campbell. He was the chef that taught me the foundation of cooking and understanding the fundamentals of food and how to constantly think outside the box and question everything.
Where have you eaten your best ever meal?
It’s hard to pick one definitive best meal, as so many have been amazing in their own right. In no particular order, my top three would be – Casamia (Bristol) Restaurant Story & The Square (London).
How daunting was it to take over the brigade at Restaurant 23 after Peter Knibb’s decade there?
Taking over any kitchen has its challenges, but if you bring a new, fresh concept that inspires others, then believing in you becomes a much easier task.
Do you use any local suppliers at Restaurant 23?
Yes. I like the feel of community and insist that we source our products locally. We have some great suppliers on our doorstep with incredible products and skill. This is obviously not always possible, as some items need to be imported or sourced from specialist suppliers.
What can diners expect from you at Restaurant 23?
Interesting, technical, dynamic, alternative British cooking – a culinary journey.
Restaurant 23 34 Hamilton Terrace, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire @Restaurant23