You could say Andy Gaskin is a nomad. Born in London in 1962, his cooking journey has taken him from London to Anguilla with stops among others in Malta, Porto Cervo, Rome, Paris, Monte Carlo, Sicily, Africa, Thailand, China, the Pacific island of Bora Bora and more recently in Croatia.
His love of travel has given him the opportunity to move and discover new places, get new ideas and create recipes and memories along the way.
In the years he has been inspired by Professor Hubert from his culinary school, who taught him the basics, Marco Pierre White, whose dedication to top quality and perfection he immensely appreciates and Heston Blumenthal, with his creativity and constant re-examination of all the culinary aspects.
His experience of working in kitchens around the world has made him an uncompromising connoisseur of the latest in the business and helped him in using top-quality tools, appliances and ingredients.
You’ve had a very long career and worked in many countries. What has taken you Anguilla? How do you find it there?
I have joined the Belmond hotel family and am in Anguilla to open the flagship property in the region – the Belmond Cap Juluca. So far it has been great. I am busy researching and sourcing local ingredients and artisan producers and also going out with the fisherman to see what the Caribbean has to offer.
What is the food scene like in Anguilla at the moment?
They have all had an immense influence on me and made me who I am today. I took something from each of them. They are never sitting still and always pushing the boundaries in their cuisine, so I strive to do this daily.
How would you describe your cooking style?
Emotional, Humorous, Original and Creative.
You’ve spent time in my home country Malta. What did you take from your experience there?
I loved it in Malta and it stills holds a special place in my heart. It was where I started to test my creativity. It is still home to my two amazing sons.
What was your view of Maltese cuisine and what do you think is needed to take the country to the next level in terms of food?
I think Maltese cuisine is very good, good wholesome Mediterranean cuisine stripped bare. I also think that the young chefs just need to travel and then return back to the island with their stories and memories to take the cuisine to the next level. It helps if they have entrepreneurs who are willing to back them to experiment.
Of all the places you have cooked in the world, which has been the most interesting for you and why?
Probably wherever I am at the time. I throw myself completely into the local culture wherever I am and try to create something different with what I have available so that’s what makes every location an exciting project for me.
Where do you find inspiration?
From the people closest to me.
How do you go about the creative process?
I am permanently stewing things over in my head, always thinking of a twist on the way I look at things. I also like to sketch ideas in my Storybook sketch pad whilst going off into different branches of my mind. I always like to try to surprise guests in my restaurants with a memorable experience.
What are your hobbies apart from cooking?
Football. I am an avid Arsenal fan, a Gooner from birth.
You’ve been like a nomad travelling the world and cooking in different countries and continents. How important is travel for a chef and for any professional in life?
I personally think it is very important to open your mind and also experience different approaches to life and cuisine.
Is there a place you want to return to cook or else a place you really wish to cook in?
I would love to cook in California. It is one place I enjoyed visiting but didn’t get a chance to cook in a kitchen there.
How did you decide to start cooking?
It was the creative process that got me interested in the kitchen. That and the atmosphere I was lucky to experience once I stepped foot into my first professional kitchen.
You’ve been cooking for 35 years. How has the food scene changed in your view? Is it for the better?
Starting in the West End of London and having the opportunity to travel a lot of the world has opened my eyes to so many experiences and the food scene has changed a lot over the years. I think the world is far more food orientated and with the help of top chefs like Massimo Bottura and Jose Andres they are using their presence in a very influential manner which is good to see.
Your best ever meal?
Probably having the opportunity to cook for my two boys on my Chef’s Table in Croatia. On the other side of the passe was my Dads birthday dinner at Le Manoir Quat Saisons with Raymond Blanc in Great Milton, a memorable experience.
Is there anything you don’t eat?
I am not too keen on capers or olives, believe it or not.
A tool in your professional kitchen which you think should be in everyone’s kitchen
I love my Thermomix, Pacojet and Smoking gun …they present me great chances to experiment.
Do you cook at home?
No, maybe cornflakes at 3.00am or beans on toast.
I love all seafood.
Chefs that inspire you?
My team wherever i may be.
Too many to mention.
Your favourite books?
White Heat by Marco Pierre White and whatever I am reading at the moment
If you could give advice to chefs starting today, what would it be?
Throw yourself completely into the kitchen, ask questions, travel and make sure you choose your mentors carefully, create, do not be scared to make mistakes and question everything, work as hard as you can and strive for magic. Then get up and do it all over again.