Galton Blackiston is the owner and chef patron of the Michelin starred Morston Hall country house hotel and restaurant. He also regularly appears on BBC1s Saturday Kitchen. Here he touches base with editor Sally Thomson who wants to find out more about the man who has delivered a Michelin star for over 14 years.
I am hoping that you can tell us a little about yourself. Our readers will be interested in finding out about the man behind his cuisine. I understand that your career really began when you were just 17 selling your own homemade cakes and preserves, that was extremely entrepreneurial – what was your next step?
Yes, I actually left school to play cricket. I was born in Norfolk but we moved to Kent and I was asked by Kent Cricket Club to see how I would get on. However, when it came to the end of the season I found out I wasn’t good enough to play professional cricket so after that I fell into cooking. And, my mum said you are not academic; you love cooking so why don’t you do a market stall? This was in Rye and every Thursday I made my cakes and biscuits, flans, breads and things like that. I really quite enjoyed it.
So do you still turn your hand to that side of cooking?
Yes, as there was a cookery writer who was very inspirational to me and her name was Geraldene Holt. She wrote a cookery book on cakes, so I followed her recipes. Now whenever I buy cookery books I always look at the desserts, pudding and cake sections before I every look at anything else.
In terms of the Morston Hall menus do you have one you favour?
Although it is going to sound quite old fashioned I think you can judge a kitchen by the quality of its lemon tart.
And would that be its gentle wobble?
Gentle wobble, the right sweetness, tartness and pastry thickness. All of that. It’s a classic that stands the test of time. It should leave you wanting more.
What do you think makes the produce of Norfolk so special?
Where we are we have one tiny little coastal road, which meanders along the best part of Norfolk and beyond that is the sea. Fish is very important to us and Norfolk is a county which, because we don’t have motorways cutting it up, is a very big farming area and most of it is arable. There are a lot of crops and farmers are diversifying growing specialist crops.
I have seen you cooking on TV particularly on Saturday Kitchen, do you enjoy it?
I love it now and I am very fortunate in that James Martin has become a personal friend. he is always going on about Norfolk being the back end of nowhere. But then, because I love shooting, and I go to Yorkshire with him, I can get my own back. It is pretty remote up there. Beautiful but remote. Yes, we do have a bit of banter. In fact I have had a lovely thing happen to me today, I have been asked to appear in their 400th show which is being televised in March. I am thrilled.
Finally what are you plans for 2015?
Well, we are entering a new era actually, as I am venturing more and more into the kitchen this year.
I am really happy in getting involved with the menus and enjoying the buzz. Plus we are looking forward to opening up a new place. It all came about when I was watching Norwich Football. I watch them most weekends, and somebody sat next to me and asked if I would open up something further down the coast. I answered that I would never say never, but then at my stage of life I really do not want to pump money into a new business. It would have to be extraordinary for me to considerate it. I said it off the cuff and added that the only thing that would really interest me would be fish and chips. Low and behold within two weeks there was a site in Cromer which was pretty run down -well, we went to have a look, but the views were wonderful. That was it.
It has done so very well. To give you an example last year during the summer, it was doing over a thousand covers a day. It is a bit of a monster of a business and I love it!
If you wish to enjoy Galton’s cuisine then visit www.morstonhall.com to discover more.