Darren Broome learned to cook after a traumatic accident when he was 19, causing him to develop post-traumatic stress disorder and shattering his dreams of becoming a sports psychologist. Halfway through the review of his A-levels, Broom was the victim of a knife attack that put his life on an unexpected path. Today, surrounded by rolling green hills and crumbling stone walls, he is the head chef at Pythouse Kitchen Garden in Wiltshire.
I read that you became a chef at the age of 19 after a traumatic event that caused you to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. First, I’m so sorry you had to get through this. Second, explain to me how that incident led you to where you are now? Thank you, it has been an experience that you have used to motivate me in many areas of my life. Upon reflection, it was an opportunity to challenge myself, question my beliefs and values, develop my character, and understand who I really am; While developing an intuition that helped me manage others in kitchens.
First I left my A levels, stress, lack of sleep, night terrors and depression made me unable to function. I tried to motivate myself to find work, take a manual job, but it just didn’t work for me. Discussions with friends and family about my career led to me becoming a chef.
I soon became interested in the business side of hospitality, and learning to be a good chef was to be an all-around chef, costly, creative, good leader, tough in the kitchen, and team player. I enjoyed the high pressure. I quickly made my way to the chef, and along the way, I was told repeatedly, “You are not like other chefs.”
What is your favorite cooking and why? My favorite cuisine is “chef food”. Indulgent, quick and usually easy, it’s the perfect kitchen to enjoy on your days off! A good example is an open steak sandwich with onions, crunchy onions, sriracha mayonnaise, crunchy salad, fried eggs, and nougat.
I know you work a lot with local ingredients – tell me about some of the most unexpected ways you’ve brought local herbs and forages to your menu? We use a lot of herbs in desserts. One dish uses fresh tarragon, oregano, mint, and fennel, pressed between layers of phyllo dough with butter and powdered sugar, then baked until crispy. Similarly, we serve with boiled strawberries with whipped custard.
I’ve worked with some great chefs – what are some of the most outstanding tips you’ve received over the years? Be good at things that do not require talent; Listen; Be good looking, show up on time, ask questions; Work clean and be honest.
How did you become interested in the art of cooking over fire and what might surprise people about your cooking style? I became interested in fire cooking when I was a private chef, and later focused entirely on open cooking at Nancaro Farm in Cornwall. The main thing I would say is surprising is how consistent the results are. Manage your fire well and choose good fuel – you’ll be surprised how easy it is to cook over a fire.
How does your upbringing in Devon and the Southwest affect your kitchen? It gave me a passion for working with beef, lamb, pork, and wonderful wild ingredients from the coast, as well as the diverse fish I grew up with on my doorstep.
What on your mind makes a perfect meal? Acidity and texture – it’s something that is often overlooked. That sharp edge in a rich, comforting dish makes the difference
What industry trends do you find interesting right now? Fermentation is huge. Likewise, the binary ingredients and products that come from this process are also exciting.
Do you have a favorite time of year or a group of components you’re looking to work with? To that end… what new ingredient or ingredients are inspiring you right now? I love autumn; It’s my favorite time of the year by far. There aren’t a lot of new ingredients, but British-made products, like the amazing pulses from Hodmedods, really excite me.