With over half of his life devoted to the culinary craft, Daniel arrived at The Milestone with a wealth of experience acquired from his ventures in South East Asia and his tenure at The Ritz, London. Driven by a passion for crafting modern British cuisine that honours seasonality and embraces inclusivity, Daniel's culinary vision revolves around creating dishes that appeal to all. In this interview, Daniel offers insights into his approach and expertise, providing us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of his culinary philosophy and the delicious meals he prepares.

What is your process for sourcing and testing ingredients for your dishes?

I strive to maintain close relationships with our suppliers and, whenever possible, I visit their production sites to gain a deeper understanding of the origin and quality of our ingredients. This ensures that we secure the freshest and best-quality ingredients for our dishes. When it comes to testing new produce, we foster a culture of curiosity within the team. If there's a new ingredient we haven't used before, we'll procure it, experiment with it in the kitchen, and assess how it complements existing menu items or, if particularly inspiring, develop new dishes around it.

How do you come up with new innovative dishes for the menu?

We are constantly seeking ways to innovate our menu, particularly as we transition between seasons. By cultivating ideas well in advance, we can enter each new season with a clear plan for improvement. I find that collaborative energy is key to this process; every team member brings unique perspectives, offering fresh angles on enhancing the dining experience.

What new trends are you excited by?

Though not the latest trend, the return of the sandwich is fantastic, with London offering exceptional flavours between two slices of bread. Additionally, it's exciting to see how people are now addressing waste by utilising previously overlooked resources, leading to reduced environmental impact.

Are there any aspiring chefs you have your eyes on?

Spencer Metzger, who has recently left The Ritz; I worked with him at the start of his career. I am excited to witness his next endeavours after accomplishing so much during his time there. Also, Adam Smith’s restaurant, Woven, sits firmly at the top of my list of places to visit this year. I have full confidence that the team there will be striving for their well-deserved second Michelin star.

What would you say are the standout dishes on your menu?

We have our roasted Merryfield Farm duck breast, which we serve with a dauphinoise that we have layered in the middle with a confit leg and served with chicory marmalade, parsnip puree, and Madeira jus. Our vegan sticky toffee pudding is served with custard and ice cream; the taste is so remarkable that you wouldn't even believe it's vegan unless you were told.

What’s a single item that you can’t live without?

I always have a selection of dim sum from Lung Fung ready to go in my freezer at home; they are great for a late-night dinner after a busy day in the kitchen.

What is the greatest new skill or technique you’ve learned?

My sous chef Sam and I have recently taken an interest in the art of low-temperature fish cooking. We've both been experimenting with various techniques that can improve our fish dishes.

What is your go-to 15-minute meal?

Other than dim sum, it would have to be the M&S breaded chicken. A wrap, coleslaw, cheese and a little simple salad of iceberg, red onion, cherry tomatoes and cucumber always goes down a treat.

What has been the funniest moment from your time working as a chef?

I once slipped and accidentally sat in a stock pot that happened to be full and still hot from the stove. It was towards the end of the night, and I had to take a vacuum packed bag of ice with me to sit on while taking the tube home. It wasn't so funny at the time, but looking back, it always makes me laugh, and thankfully, no harm was done!

If you weren't a chef, what profession would you pursue?

I believe I might have pursued a career in the army, as I deeply valued the discipline that the kitchen instilled in me during my teenage years. If the army wasn't an option, I would have certainly chosen a trade, as the office environment simply doesn't appeal to me.

Have there been individuals who have influenced you?

Andrew Bennett, my first Executive Chef, served as both a mentor and a significant influence throughout my career. He provided me with the opportunity to hone my skills in the kitchen and imparted valuable lessons that I continue to live by, even after his passing. Another influential figure in my career was Chef John Williams. After seven years of training, I had the privilege of cooking under him. His dedication to maintaining a consistently high standard every day was truly inspirational.

What is your go-to ingredient?

Vinegar. I’m a really big fan of acids and how they cut through fats and allow flavours to blend. I am a big fan of Minus8Vinegar and several of their flavoured vinegars.

How does The Milestone's heritage influence your cooking?

It’s something that I always want to do justice. We have a beautiful building with amazing history, and we want to create something that sits alongside that with pride. We utilise classical techniques and also have some classic dishes that will make you feel at home when you are staying with us.

What is the most valuable tool or lesson any chef should learn?

I believe that tasting is perhaps the most valuable tool any chef could have. Therefore, the most valuable lesson a chef can learn is to continuously strive for improvement. Whether it's through trying your own creations, sampling different cuisines, or seeking inspiration from others' dishes, the key is to always push yourself to be just a little bit better than the day before. By embracing this philosophy consistently, you'll undoubtedly go a lot further than those who don't.