Paul Hood is chef-patron with Jason Atherton of Social Eating House. They are opening casual Italian Hai Cenato in Victoria in February
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Surrey, in Coulsdon. I still live there pretty much.
What’s your first food-loving memory?
None of my family are massive cooks. My mum can’t stand cooking – my dad says this is why I got into it. At my grandma’s she did a lot more cooking, big roasts and family times like at Christmas, making little cakes.
How did you get into the business?
At school we did home economics; you did three cooking sessions in a year and I failed that miserably. It was dire. I started working at Fairfields Hall in Croydon but working with great people. There was no lightbulb moment, I just loved it. My dad tried to put me off. He didn’t know anything about the industry he just heard that it was tough to get on. I said ‘no, I’m going to do it’. Even at college I was still clocking on to Fairfields, helping out the sous chef, filleting salmon.
Where have you learned the most?
I’ve been working now with Jason (Atherton) for the last 10 years and I’ve learned a lot from that. More the business side, developing into a senior person, managing a team, running a second business and openings; opening in NY and Asia and [finding out] how different cultures work.
What would be your last meal on earth?
When I go to a pub I like ham, egg and chips, or fish and chips. A nice bit of ham. We put duck ham, duck egg and duck fat chips on the menu when we opened Social Eating House. To drink I’d have a dark ale beer. And dessert: a nice chocolate fondant.
What sort of place do you like to eat in?
As I’ve grown up, you want to go to a nice pub with family, kids, sink into a chair. And somewhere you can drop some cutlery and no one will look at you. It doesn’t have to be amazing food, just who you’re with.
What’s your favourite London restaurant?
I love the Ledbury. I used to work for the same group at the Glasshouse, same guys.