The Lion…and the Shropshire Lamb

PUBLISHED: 17:54 20 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:18 20 February 2013

Courtesy of English Heritage

Courtesy of English Heritage

Mbark Jbara was born in Morocco and trained in Spain, and France before moving to Shropshire, where he met his wife.

He now lives in Newport with his family and is head chef at the recently refurbished Haywards Restaurant and privately owned Lion Hotel, Shrewsbury. THE CHEF BITES BACK What is your earliest memory of food? When I was 14, cooking in the kitchen with my father who was a chef in Morocco, before we moved to France. Who influenced your decision to become a chef? Lots of friends cooked and my family love food. What was the first dish you cooked?

I think it was an omelette, but as a chef, ratatouille in France. What is your favourite ingredient? Fresh fish and I also like to cook with lamb. Where is your favourite restaurant? La Brochette in Madrid - the perfect combination of good modern European food, striking dcor and good service. Which celebrity chef/s do you admire? Spaniard Ferran Adria who works at El Bulli on the Costa Brava - his creations are unbelievable. Which nationality cooks the best food?

The Spanish, definitely. They use healthy foods and lots of olive oil, but very little cream - simple fresh ingredients.

What would you say is the classic Midlands dish? Shropshire roast lamb with rosemary and garlic, beetroot and mint, local potatoes and vegetables. What ingredients from the region influence your menu? Local meats and seasonal vegetables. We also have some great cheeses from Shropshire, including those fromMartin Moyden's of Newport, which is next door to my house and I am working with Sarah Hampton of Brock Hall Farm, Bridgnorth What is the best meal you've ever cooked? Fillet steak with Shropshire mushrooms, beetroot and horseradish and ox tail jus - this often appears on our Haywards Restaurant menu. What is your signature dish? Halibut, pan fried with oyster cream sauce and salted potatoes with fresh samphire. Do you have a tip for a novice cook? Learn the basics, and stick to them, always use fresh ingredients, always taste. Practise, practise, practise - you can always improve. Have you cooked for anyone famous? When I was cooking in Spain we cooked a meal for footballer Zinedine Zidane. What would you choose for your last meal on earth? Fresh lobster roasted with olives and garlic, fresh parsley and lemon and home-made

tartar sauce.

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