I rarely get time to eat at other restaurants. As a chef, I’m frequently at the stove of my own kitchen, so eating out is a rare treat, writes Will Holland.
Earlier this year, I managed to visit one of my favourite Shropshire chefs, Suree Coates, for a dinner with her family. It was an absolute treat.
She invited me over after I’d agreed to write the foreword for her new book, Cook Thai, which was published last weekend, to coincide with Ludlow Food Festival.
Suree is an amazing cook, one of the best, and I love her style of food. I’m really proud of her for writing a book, it’s an amazing achievement, and it was an honour to write a dedication for her.
It was fitting that the book was launched at Ludlow Food Festival – because that’s where I first met Suree.
We were both on the line-up of chefs demonstrating at the food festival. I arrived early for my demonstration and a big crowd was already gathered around the main stage. I wondered who was causing all the commotion.
Suree had taken centre stage and she was busily working with a watermelon. Within what seemed like minutes, she transformed the large fruit into the most beautiful sculpture. I’d never seen anything like it. I stood, transfixed. She took my breath away. She started with a watermelon and effortlessly turned it into a dragon.
Suree and I are both based in Shropshire and it wasn’t long after I arrived here that I heard about her. For some time she has been the region’s best Thai chef and she proved her worth more recently when she was named the UK’s best in a national competition.
I’m a massive fan of Thai food. It’s a cuisine that I love to eat when I’m not at work. There are so many things to enjoy about it – it’s light, fresh, fragrant, punchy and aromatic. You can eat lots and not get full which is a bonus and of course it’s very healthy.
As I’ve got to know Suree, I’ve gained enormous respect for her.
She runs her restaurant with her family – her husband, Simon, and son, Ross, are ever-present in her life. They have supported her dream of being recognised as one of the best Thai chefs in the business.
* Will Holland is a multi-award-winning Shropshire-based chef who won a Michelin star before the age of 30 and was a regional winner on BBC TV’s Great British Menu.