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Quick Bite With Andrew Dargue, Chef Patron of Vanilla Black

The Woods Foodservice Quick Bite series is a 10-second download from a top UK chef sharing what’s on their plate.

We speak to Andrew Dargue, chef patron of Vanilla Black, the critically acclaimed restaurant known for its innovative approach to vegetarian and vegan cuisine, and strictly ‘no pasta bake or vegetable curry’ policy.

What inspired you to become a chef?

Ah, no romantic Chefs Table moment here. Basically my mother hated cooking and we had to cook for ourselves from an early age. Our ingredients consisted of Bernard Matthews turkey burgers and Birds Eye potato waffles, exciting stuff. Growing up in Teesside in the 80s didn’t present much opportunity so I ended up on a Youth Training Scheme which trained people in catering. From there I attended catering college and it all just seemed to click.

What piece of golden advice would you give to anyone in the industry if they want to be successful?

Many people say work hard, which is obviously true, but always have an end goal. Lots of people work hard but if you don’t have a goal what’s the point?

What trends will be big in 2020?

I think the sustainability movement will continue to grow alongside traceability. As consumers become better educated they demand more from the industry.

Favourite dish on the menu that uses an ingredient from Woods?

We have a dessert on the menu based around toffee and bananas. On the dish is some banana shortbread which is made with banana chips from Woods which we grind down to make a flour.