This week, it’s the turn of Mario Masaryk,

chef at The Horse & Groom

at Charlton.

Tel: 01666 823904

When did you first take an interest in cooking, and when did you decide you wanted to be a chef?

I was born in Trencin, Slovakia. It’s a little spa town with a good tourist trade, plenty of hotels and restaurants so I think that’s how it all started. My father is a chef as well and he taught me my first simple dishes – mainly pancakes and some puddings!

Where did you do your training?

I am still learning now. I initially trained for four years in a catering college in Trencin and then I went to do National Service in the Slovakian army. When I was 25 I came to England. Since then I have worked under a number of chefs as I progressed through the kitchen – always learning. Now that the Horse and Groom has been bought by Marco Pierre White I’m looking forward to learning even more.

How would you describe your style?

Modern British with some classics thrown in. I like to give some of our dishes a little Slovakian flavour – something the guests might not expect!

Do you have a signature dish? If so, what?

I don’t really have a signature dish – things can get boring if you cook the same dish over and over again. My favourite dish is beef goulash served with crusty bread.

What would you order from your own menu?

Oven roasted salmon with beetroot risotto. I love way the delicate flavours of the salmon contrast with the earthiness of the beetroot – and it’s really colourful so it’s as good to look at as it is to eat.

Your favourite vegetable, and why?

It would have to be the onion. It’s the basis of so many great dishes and there are so many varieties, from the hot sharp yellow onions to the mild sweet brown ones.

And favourite dessert?

I’m trying not to think about puddings as I’m spending a lot of time at the gym to get myself fit! However, I love our chocolate and walnut fondant. We cook it to perfection so that when you break it open the liquid chocolate centre gushes out.

Do you cook a lot at home? What sort of food?

I don’t have a lot of free time and I much prefer cooking for others than for myself.

Where else locally do you like to eat?

Recently I have been to The Pear Tree at Whitely near Melksham. It’s another of MPW’s places and I know they value fresh ingredients and local produce in the same way that we do.

Why should people come to the Horse and Groom?

Because we have a fantastic menu (Iwould say that – but it’s true) with something for everyone on there. We have home made pasta, vegetarian dishes, great steak from a local butcher, game, fish and poultry as well as pub favourites such as beer battered haddock, home made burgers, award winning sausages and racks of ribs. And you won’t get better chips anywhere! Plus we have daily specials, and everything is made fresh – nothing is bought in pre-prepared – and I think our prices are very reasonable.

Even if you just fancy a drink, our bar has some really good ales and a fantastic wine list, so come on in, sit by the fire and just enjoy being here!