In our first interview, we have the pleasure of talking to Ross Anderson, the visionary owner of Roam Catering. Starting from cooking for troops in Afghanistan, he has gone on to cater for royalty and politicians, collaborating with various suppliers and talents. Come along as we delve into the diverse chapters of his career, from private dining to his passion for open-fire cooking.
1) Could you share the journey that led you to become a chef?
I was always interested in food as a young lad, and upon leaving school, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. So, I decided to take a trip to the Army careers office where a giant of a man asked me, 'You want to get a trade behind you! What are you good at?' At this point, my mother, sitting beside me, said, 'He can cook!' and that was it – an Army chef I became!
2) You had some fascinating places where you worked, how was cooking in Afghanistan similar to cooking for the Royals?
I have been fortunate enough during my career to cook for royalty, politicians, and heads of state. Whether cooking for dignitaries or the troops, the same discipline, standards, and passion went into my food. No matter where I worked, whether it be in a palace or a bunker in a foreign land, it was always about flavour!!!
3) What is your signature dish, and what inspired its creation?
I don’t think I have a signature dish as such, but more of a medium. Fire has always driven me and been a conduit to flavour and balance. It excites and propels me, helping elevate food to new levels. I particularly love cooking Middle Eastern cuisine; it's the fusion and balance that I adore, allowing the quality of simple ingredients to sing.
4) How do you stay inspired and keep your menus fresh and exciting?Inspiration, for me, comes from travel and the producers, suppliers, and organisations I work with, such as The Craft Guild of Chefs and World Steak Challenge.
5) What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the culinary arts?
Find a mentor to aspire to and work your socks off!! Nothing comes for free in this industry and hard work pays off 😉.
6) What are the unique challenges and rewards of cooking with fire?
One word, “FLAVOUR” and it looks bloody cool. Lol that’s 6, sorry 😂
7) You have recently opened your cooking school, what is the most special thing about it?
The journey people go on and the reactions they give at the end— that's why I love what I do.
8) When testing new recipes, have you experienced significant failures? What’s your approach to recipe development and testing?
I wouldn’t say failures, for me some of the best dishes are stumbled upon, but with the development and creation of new dishes, much like our ethos, it is about, “less is more!” and simplicity is key. Allow the ingredient to shine, just frame it with Fire! 🔥
9) Have you ever received a bizarre or unusual food request from a customer? How did you respond?
Oh God yes! too many to count. Lol. The best one I think was can you cook Ice cream on a BBQ! So of course, we did to prove a point😉 Smoked brown butter and maple ice cream. It was epic!!!
10) What tools or ingredients do you consider vital to your cooking and why?
People who know me, know of my love for butter! Also, the right fuel source!!! (Globaltic is defo up there 👆1!!!) Fuel creates a jacket of flavour around the food.
11) How does the choice of charcoal, like Globaltic sustainable birch charcoal, impact the flavour and cooking process?
I find that Globaltic frames food perfectly and is easy to add to and cook with.
12) What trends do you see emerging in the culinary industry, particularly concerning open-fire cooking?
For me it is all moving towards the experience. I think we need more than just food. Now it is the whole event and elements like location and setting are incredibly important. But the food must link and have a story! Fire does this so well and makes an event almost Primeval and encourages gathering and being together.
13) What projects do you have going for 2024?
We have just launched our new company Roam Inns Ltd, in which we are building a new Pub group focused on cooking over fire and working in rural countryside locations, specialising in game produce and great service. The Boot Inn in the beautiful Wiltshire village of Berwick St James, near Salisbury, is the first and is now open, with food service commencing in early March, so come and say hi!!!👋
1 word blitz:
1 single ingredient you can’t live without?
If you could only eat 1 dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Ham, Egg and Chips (but only mine 😉)
Except yours, which restaurant is the best you’ve ever been to?
I love what Sat does at ‘Restaurant Sat Bains with rooms’; should have been 3⭐️years ago.
Strangest ingredient ever used?
Lambs Testicles (Not going to lie, not great!)
Globaltic charcoal: What’s your take in one word?
You can find Ross here: