Having worked at The Ritz for seven years, Sven-Hanson Britt embarked on a journey of self discovery on Master Chef: The Professionals in 2014, which cemented his love for food. With the shared values of precision, passion and uncompromising quality, we were delighted to welcome him as Miele’s executive chef in 2015. He is now also the proud owner of Hardley Hill Farm.
With Sven’s love for travel and in season British food, we talked to him about his kitchen heroes, growing your own produce, why he chooses Miele for both his home and professional kitchen and his love of the humble sprout!
We know you love to cook with in season produce, what are your go to ingredients through the seasons?
All my favourite ingredients to cook with are those that grow within our isles. I love when British strawberries are in season, we have some amazing varieties that taste like nothing you can get elsewhere. Super-fresh Mackerel, in season from May to September, from the cold waters surrounding our country is perhaps my favourite fish. I find myself cooking more and more with Spelt instead of wheat and will always go for Sea Trout when it is available (April to July). Mushrooms are a great natural indication of the seasons; we’re lucky to have so many types of edible mushroom growing in our woodlands and meadows throughout most months of the year whether it is St. George’s in spring, Chanterelles in early summer or Penny Buns in the autumn.
Where did your passion for growing your own produce originate?
I have tried to learn as much about farming and gardening as possible – my parents and grandparents have always had their own beautiful and productive gardens. The beauty of growing your own produce is just how delicious super-fresh produce is. If you’ve ever eaten a pea straight from the plant you know what I mean. Having control of how and when ingredients are planted, harvested and cooked is a lot of work but it is the only way to produce a true and pure flavour.
Who are your kitchen heroes?
The best piece of advice you have been given?
I’ve been given a lot of advice in my time but a phrase that I try to live by is from Ghandi and that is “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. This can be applied to the smallest or the greatest of challenges.
What are your favourite restaurants to visit in the UK and further afield?
I have spent most of my wages in some of the best restaurants in the world. My favourite experiences have come at Faviken (Sweden), Michel Bras (France) and Regis et Jaques Marcon (France). I’ve had some fantastic meals in the UK at The Ledbury, Lyles, Portland and Bonhams.
Having worked with Miele for over a year, what has surprised you the most about its cooking appliances?
What I love about Miele is that they have the same mentality as I do towards cooking. They strive for perfection and precision but do so in a humble way that puts their customers first as the most valued element.
Do you have a favourite Miele appliance?
Picking out a favourite appliance is a tricky one. Their combination steam technology is something really special. It can allow you to cook extremely well and very accurately. I also love the versatility of the SousChef Drawer, it’s a must for a keen home cook.
As a keen supporter of UK produce – what should we be looking out for?
I try to only buy British fruit and vegetables, but they’re not always easy to spot in the supermarkets. Take more time to check labelling, and don’t just grab the nearest and most shiny pack of apples! You will be rewarded with superior flavour when you end up with something British. I feel we should be supporting our farmers and our economy, from professional kitchens down to supermarkets. But it’s not only that, food generally travels less distance if we eat homegrown, it is therefore fresher and results in tastier dishes.
Which vegetable do you think is under appreciated?
I love Jerusalem artichokes but you hardly see them for sale! Sprouts too. Give me a sprout any day of the year!
What’s your favourite go-to quick supper?
Spaghetti with chilli, garlic, olive oil, clams and broccoli.
What inspires you?
I draw a lot of inspiration from the passionate producers and farmers I have met in recent years. The way they care so much about what they do for sometimes very little reward is incredibly inspirational, the very least I can do in return is cook a delicious and respectful dish with their ingredient. I am also surrounded by very talented family and friends and am always pushed to achieve more by seeing their achievements.
Where is your favourite place to shop for ingredients?
You’ll find me in all of the local farmers markets scouring for delicacies but I also try and support independent shops rather than large chains. The local Asian supermarket is a treasure trove of delights!
What has been the toughest dish you have mastered?
My training in restaurants and my apprenticeship were based around traditional French and British cooking. There are many intricate classics that take days to produce; sauces, stuffed saddles of lamb, terrines and all sorts of items en croute, but I am a firm believer that the hardest thing to achieve is simplicity. That being the case, it has taken me many years to cook the perfect scrambled egg (which is my favourite egg dish) but it’s not just the cooking, it’s down to the breed of chicken and its diet!
You have just had a new home kitchen fitted. With so much choice how did you choose what appliances to include?
We were quite lucky because we were very limited for space! If I had a huge kitchen I don’t think I could restrain myself and it would have been harder to choose. A Steam Combination Oven was a must as was an Induction Hob. I’m a big advocate of induction over gas as it is much more energy efficient.
Kitchen appliances also have to look good, and Miele is perfect for that. My appliances feature ‘M Touch’ controls, so they look beautiful on top of being very clever. Miele ‘M Touch’ offers Smartphone style navigation, so appliances can be used quickly and intuitively by touching or swiping the screen. Searching for automatic programmes is easy, as you are able to search via ingredient, for example ‘B’ for ‘Beef’ and the display shows you the programmes available.
Tell us about your exciting new venture?
I am in the early stages of opening a restaurant on a farm in South Derbyshire. It is going to be a big renovation project and we will be growing and rearing much of the food that we cook with. We have some amazingly talented people on board and it is a beautiful part of the world, so I am really excited to watch it develop.
What food trends do you expect to see in 2016?
I think people are starting to care more about provenance as time goes on, home cooks are getting better and British food is really taking off. We live in the most exciting country in Europe, if not the world, when it comes to food and cooking so I think that is just going to get stronger. Bearing this in mind, I think 2016 will bring more creativity when it comes to cooking with fish. We have amazing fish in the UK but we only ever eat salmon and cod, so the challenge for 2016 is to be more creative with different species.