Chef Uncovered – Roger Hickman
Leeds-born chef Roger Hickman is flying the Yorkshire flag in Norfolk, where his eponymous restaurant, opened in 2010 has rapidly become a foodie fixture, drawing enthusiastic diners from across the country.
In the five years since opening, he has received its fair share of plaudits, including three AA Rosettes (the only restaurant in Norwich to hold this award), The Good Food Guide’s Best Restaurant in East Anglia, and the Eastern Daily Press’s Food Award for Best Restaurant, two years on the trot. Roger originally only took a catering course because he was too young to become a fireman, which was his childhood ambition. Fortunately, he discovered a natural talent in the kitchen – as well as a passion for fine dining.
Roger is no stranger to the Norfolk food scene. He was head chef at the renowned Adlards, when it held a Michelin star; he also had a spell as head chef at the Victoria Hotel at Holkham in north Norfolk. He has also worked in London, including a spell with top chef Tom Aikens.
Roger describes his style as ‘modern British, with a twist’, and his menus always demonstrate an accent on seasonal produce. He describes himself as a perfectionist, with French Laundry supremo Thomas Keller the chef he most admires. Married to Penny, who can be found front of house in the restaurant several evenings a week, and with two sons, Luke and Dylan, life is certainly hectic for Roger, not least because he is at the stoves pretty much every session the restaurant is open.
Although he has made Norfolk his home, part of Roger will always be in Leeds. He remains an enthusiastic Leeds Untied supporter, and enjoys returning to his home city to visit family and his old haunts.
The Good Food Guide says of the restaurant: “There’s something about its comforting surrounds that attracts both the Norwich old guard and new-breed foodies. Clean-cut, clearly-defined flavours and incredible attention to detail are the hallmarks of Hickman’s spirited cooking, with high levels of painstaking skill.”
79 Upper St. Giles Street, Norwich
T 01603 633522
Why not try Roger’s recipe for Crispy Ham Hock with a Pea & Mint Mousse
1 ham hock, soaked in water overnight
vegetable oil for frying
300g frozen peas
About a dozen of mint leaves,
150ml double cream
2 leaves gelatin
A handful of small wild mushrooms
100ml white wine vinegar
100ml olive oil
A pinch of sugar
3 sprigs thyme
100g pea shoots
3 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp balsamic Vinegar for dressing salad
Salt and pepper
1. Soak the ham hock overnight to reduce its saltiness, then strain the water off and place the hock in a large pan with enough fresh water to cover it completely. Bring the water to the boil, and then simmer until the hock is soft, which should take about three hours, depending on its size.
2. Leave the ham to cool, then break it into small pieces ready to pané: this means coating them in breadcrumbs. Coat each piece of ham in the flour, then dip into the beaten eggs, and finally roll in the breadcrumbs to coat evenly.
3. For the pea mousse, bring a pan of water to the boil. Add 250g of the peas and bring back to boil. Strain, and blend well with the mint and a little water to make a soup. Add 2 leaves of gelatine, season to taste then leave in fridge to cool and set. Once set, whisk the cream to soft peaks and fold into the jellied mousse.
Set in fridge for 2-3 hours.
4. Put the water, wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar and a pinch of salt into a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the mushrooms, and allow to cool – this will give you gently pickled mushrooms to dress the dish.
5. Heat the oil in a pan – deep enough to fry the braded ham pieces, but no more than a third up the side of the pan. Once the oil is at 200°C, fry the ham pieces in batches for about a minute until golden, draining on kitchen paper.
6. Boil the remaining peas for a minute or two, then drain and refresh in cold water. Dress them with pickled mushrooms and place on the plate. Spoon the pea mousse onto the plate, then add the deep-fried ham hock pieces and garnish with dressed pea shoots