Q&A with Jane Baxter

Please sum up your job in a couple of sentences.
I run Wild Artichokes in Kingsbridge with Samatha Miller. I look after the food side of the operation, cooking for events, catering and pop up dinners. I have also written 5 cookery books 
 
What have you been up to most recently?
We have had a busy Easter and are now planning for the summer and looking for new, interesting venues in which to hold dining events in the area. 
 
What does the rest of the year hold in store?
We are looking forward to a busy summer, with a few trips to Italy thrown in. I am also appearing again on BBC 1’s Saturday Kitchen on July 7th 
 
What's your philosophy when it comes to food?
We live in an amazing area with some great produce. At Wild Artichokes we try to showcase local produce serving feasting menus in a sharing way. Flavour is foremost with an emphasis on interesting dishes using seasonal veg.
 
Any memorable food experiences that had an impact on you as a child or as a young chef?
Working for Joyce Molyneux at The Carved Angel was memorable and I still love to cook some of her dishes today 
 
Any memories of the first time you ate / cooked crab?
When I was cooking at the Gunfield Hotel in Dartmouth – the boats used to land at the hotel pontoon and local crab and lobster was bought up to the kitchen – that was pretty amazing.
 
What’s your favourite way to eat crab?
I love a sauce made with the brown meat called Courchamps sauce – it has loads of tarragon and aniseed flavours in it and is a good way of using the under rated brown meat.
 
Any amusing crab-related anecdotes?
I had a pet Coconut Crab called Kevin in the Solomon Islands but he escaped.
 
When did you know you wanted to become a chef?
I started cooking at University and I think that was when the seed was sown.
 
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
If you can make a living doing something you love – do it. 
 
Most important decision you’ve made during your career?
Working for Joyce and Rose and Ruthie at the River Café – gaining experience in intelligent, inspirational kitchens was definitely a good move.
 
What keeps you motivated?
Still learning about new cuisines, travelling, trying out new dishes, kitchen banter and … eating. 
 
Have you any unfulfilled food ambitions? 
Italy has so many regions that I still haven’t visited.
 
What is the most effective way to inspire people to cook at home?
Keep dishes simple and approachable. Also, it’s ok to fail. We all make mistakes, no matter how experienced a cook you are.
 
Tell us something fun / surprising about yourself that we may not know…
I played Mary Magdalene in Southmoor School's production of Jesus Christ Superstar at 17 in Sunderland. 
 
Last restaurant you ate at?
Brisa in Ericeira, Portugal.
 
Last thing you cooked for yourself?
Chilli, rice, beans and chorizo plus sesame broccoli – stuff my son David can shove in a corn tortilla.
 
Most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?
The throat of a yellow fin tuna that I caught on a handline in the middle of the Pacific whilst living in Tokelau.
 
Most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten?
That’s quite hard – most of the crudo at a restaurant in Polignano, Puglia, especially the red prawns. But I love artichokes braised with broad beans, peas and mint.
 
Favourite ingredients / kitchen gadgets?
Ingredients have to be artichokes, anchovies and forced rhubarb.
Gadgets – a good food processor and the tomato knife. 
 
Is there anything in your fridge or freezer that might surprise people?
Frozen hash browns, peas and fish fingers – well there’s a meal right there ... especially if you put the fish fingers in a sarnie!

See Jane in the Chefs Demo Marquee at Crabfest on Sunday 6th May at 3pm.  
Follow Jane and Wild Artichokes on Twitter @baxcooka @wildartichokes