Desert island dishes

With Stefan McCran
Head of operations, Relish School Food 

Beef stroganoff
The dish which resonates with me from an early age, and the one that definitely put me on my career path in foodservice, would be beef stroganoff. As a 15-year-old I went to Radbrook Catering College in Shrewsbury for a taster day and the chef instructor cooked beef stroganoff. It goes without saying that it was delicious.

Chicken chasseur
I joined the army as an Royal Logistic Corp Chef in 1996. Following basic training to become a soldier, I underwent my trade training. This training would now be termed as classical cooking and was heavily influenced by the French classic chicken chasseur, which was one of my favourites to cook and eat.

Curried lamb meatballs
Relish menus always feature an excellent variety of traditional and worldwide dishes. We also always accommodate cultural and special diets as required. Our curried lamb meatballs with a coconut curry sauce is not only a favourite with the pupils and my own kids, but also one of my favourite Relish recipes, due to the spices and its utter depth of flavours.

Spanish omelette
Perhaps one of my favourite dishes for a packed lunch at work is a Spanish omelette, made the traditional way with potatoes, eggs and onions, but served with a fresh tomato and mint salad and salad cream. Yes, salad cream is a must!

I have a very large paella pan that serves over 60 people. I love to see children experiencing new tastes and flavours, so I regularly take it into schools to cook the dish with the kids. They love to help make it, adding the ingredients, which is usually chicken, chorizo, prawns and mussels, and using the big paddle to stir the pan. Their favourite part is watching the mussels open as they cook. It is wonderful to see them so engaged. 

Slow-cooked brisket with Yorkshire pudding
This is a family Sunday favourite. It’s hearty, warming and extremely comforting. I apply a dry rub of onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika and fresh rosemary, and slow roast it for around five hours at 130 degrees, ready for when we return from football.

Pork pie 
I come from a family of bakers, and as such I have a savoury tooth, so pork pie definitely has to feature on this list. I recall watching my grandad making the pies for sale in the shop. For me, there is nothing better than a freshly made, warm pork pie.

Keema Pie
This is another delicious Relish recipe. Perhaps the best way to describe it is as an Indian cottage pie. I remember joining a tasting session at one of our schools and finding myself blown away by the depth of flavours. It is made with spiced lamb mince and vegetables, then topped with grated, crispy potatoes. Just wow! 

What book would you take?
I try to read a book a week. If I had to take one it would be Lord of the Bow by Conn Iggulden. It portrays the life story of Genghis Khan, who I found fascinating. 

And luxury item?
I'm a huge lover of music, proper old school, so my favourite artists would be Oasis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the Eagles. I just couldn’t imagine being on a desert island without my tunes. 

What one dish would you choose if you had to pick one?
Although it didn't make my top memorable dishes here, it would have to be a barbeque with beers.

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