Potts of cooking talent at the GP

TALIA CARLISLE
Last updated 12:39 11/02/2013
Chef Andy Potts
KAPITI OBSERVER
Head chef: Andy Potts in the kitchen at The General Practitione

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From dishwasher in an English pub to head chef at Wellington's The General Practitioner, Waikanae chef Andy Potts has experienced a variety of kitchens.

The English-born chef started his career aged 15, as a dishwasher in The Crown in Birmingham, where he was introduced to a world of food outside the egg and chips he had been brought up on.

"I don't think I'd ever seen a prawn before I started working in restaurants, and there were all these flash dishes I had never seen before.

"Because we were so far inland we never really had anything from the sea until I started working. It was all fascinating."

Taken by the excitement of busy kitchens, the food, and chef's lifestyle, at 17 he enrolled at the Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Domestic Arts, while still gaining work experience at The Crown.

After graduating, he earned a liquor licence and managed the Hussey Arms restaurant in Brownhills, England.

A year and a half later he took a sous chef position at The Old Stocks Hotel in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire.

In 2000 he moved to The King's Head Inn in Bledington, followed by The Fox Inn in Oddington.

Working in the Gloucestershire countryside, pheasant, hare and guinea fowl became specialties, as customers would often swap their game for a pint of beer, Mr Potts said.

Since moving to New Zealand in 2006, he still enjoys creating rabbit, hare and offal dishes, although the meat is harder to come by.

"Guinea fowl tastes like chicken should [and] lamb's kidneys are beautiful if they're cooked right. They've got to be pink," he said.

"It's tough to get pheasant and it's very expensive over here, but we have done those sort of things [at the GP]".

The key to good cooking is using good ingredients, he says.

"Use fresh ingredients. Don't try and cut corners, you need to use the best stuff and take your time over it."

Mr Potts travelled to countries including Kenya, Australia, Morocco and the Maldives before he and Kiwi wife Kim, who grew up on the Kapiti Coast, moved to Waikanae seven years ago.

His favourite dishes are Mediterranean and include paella and bouillabaisse, his love of seafood stemming from the lack of it in his younger days.

Mr Potts took the head chef position at The General Practitioner soon after arriving in New Zealand, and helped create the menu with executive chef and part- owner Len Baldwin.

The restaurant won the Monteiths' Wild Food Challenge in 2008 for Mr Potts' potted pigeon dish.

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- Fairfax Media

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