Our new food columnist Jordan Ryan, head chef of The Weeping Willow, near Bury St Edmunds, talks about zero waste and his fondest food memories
Our new food columnist Jordan Ryan has said he is excited to get started and show his all-inclusive, zero waste style of food to the masses.
The 26-year-old, who has been head chef of The Weeping Willow in Barrow, near Bury St Edmunds, for four months, has worked his way up in The Chestnut Group gastropub over the past four years after working at its sister site, The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds.
But Haverhill-born Jordan started his career five years before that, working under his older brother, Lewis, at The Greyhound and Twenty One in Wickhambrook.
On the chance to write his food pieces, he said: “To be given the opportunity to do this and have my name and my style of food out there is great. Being a Suffolk boy, getting into the papers and online is very exciting for me and I can’t wait to start.”
Jordan’s food influences include former head chef of The Northgate, Greig Young, who he describes as ‘a phenomenal chef’, and some important people in his life closer to home.
“My grandparents were very much home cooks. I remember Thursday nights after school going to nan’s house to have toad in the hole, sausage and mash and she used to make some amazing crinkle cut chips in her old frying pan – mum used to make a mean shepherd’s pie too,” he explained.
“Lewis is four or five years older than me and he was a real influence at The Greyhound and Twenty One – teaching me the basics and I took in a lot from watching him do what he does.”
Since taking the helm at the popular Bury Road restaurant, Jordan says he has found it challenging and exciting in equal measure, and didn’t realise how big the step up from sous chef to head chef was going to be, but says he has now found his feet in the role.
Looking forward to the writing, Jordan said he wants to possibly start with classics from The Weeping Willow and then look at more cost effective recipes for families to engage with them and show you can enjoy nice food within a budget.
An example of that at The Weeping Willow is a zero waste tiramisu. It uses breakfast croissants for the sponge, put into the cream filling and also uses waste coffee to soak the sponge – this showcases Jordan’s other passion, minimising food waste.
He said: “With the cost-of-living crisis, I really want to get my zero waste approach across too, with ideas that use every single piece of the items you have and keep meals to a reasonable price.
“I also enjoy getting the fundamentals of cookery across to people, bringing those into modern day recipes and showing that cooking is fun too – I hope the recipes and stories I will be bringing can do all of that.”