From the archives: intern Morgane visited Limetree Kitchen in Lewes, to chat to Alex, about seeking inspiration and using local produce…
Last week, we went to see Alex, chef of the Limetree Kitchen restaurant in Lewes. Alex’s restaurant offers innovative dishes, using the best quality, locally sourced ingredients. From meeting the local producers to creating amazing dishes inspired by modern European cooking, a passion for food is truly at the heart of Alex’s creation.
What made you decide to open a restaurant?
I love cooking, I’ve always cooked all my life, since I was 4. I always loved the idea of having my own restaurant or bar. And then I got a bit bored with working for other people and not having as much creative freedom as I liked. So when I found the right property, I just went for it. I had worked in other restaurants and I was already a chef, you know, but I wanted my own place.
Was it difficult to open the restaurant?
Yes, it was very hard. Especially when you don’t have a lot of money to do it. At first, I only had a small domestic oven, all the tables and things we had were all garden furniture. I just tried to put all the money that I had into the food, and you know eventually you can start doing the other bits and pieces. Some people are a bit obsessed about it, they want the perfect restaurant – but I couldn’t afford to do that and the food is the most important thing to me in a restaurant.
And are you from Sussex?
No, I’m from London originally.
And what brought you to Lewes?
A girl actually!
How do you choose your menus?
We speak to our suppliers, to know what’s really good, the produce that is best at the time and then we write the menus around that – if we see something that is quite inspiring and different, we just work around that too. The weather is a factor as well.
And where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere. Sometimes we’ll just see something, like I saw a photograph somewhere, of autumn leaves and I thought that would be really wonderful if we found some sort of way of putting that underneath a dessert, to make it look like an autumn floor. So yeah, we are inspired by what’s seasonal and what’s fantastic at the time. Or sometimes we just get something to try and we just think “that would be incredible, that would work really well with that….”
What about local food? Do you think that’s important?
Absolutely yes. I think if you can support the local farmers and the local growers – particularly, as a small independent place rather than having to go through big supermarkets. As a chef you have a responsibility to support the people who support you.
So that’s why you choose Fin and Farm?
It is, yes! Nick called me quite a few times and the boss I was working for was loyal to another company, so we never had the chance to work with Fin and Farm – but soon as I had my own business I wanted to use Nick so I called him.
You can see more of Limetree on their website here.