Nick is the Owner of The Buxted Inn, East Sussex, which won Channel 4’s Four in a Bed in 2019.
How have you spent your time during lockdown and what have you learnt about yourself?
I’ve spent lockdown doing two things. Firstly, we have completely refurbished the bar and restaurant. We have gutted the place and completely changed the layout and décor. As a consequence, I’ve learned a lot of new DIY skills – mostly from YouTube!
We did takeaways on Friday nights, which were a huge success, also set up a Volunteer Shopping Scheme for our village and six surrounding villages, helping over 120 ‘shielding’ households to buy almost £100,000 of shopping.
What do you think will be the biggest factor in helping consumers feel comfortable dining out again?
Time. We need the early trendsetters to give people confidence because some people feel they can’t come out yet. Positivity in the press and on social media will help too.
What do you think the dining out scene will look like next year?
I think the trend towards takeaways will continue. A lot of restaurants who never dreamed of doing takeaways before the pandemic are doing really well with it. Consumers will also continue to favour local food and local businesses, and ‘looking after the planet’ will remain an important issue too.
Have you seen a change in bestsellers?
Steaks were our biggest seller immediately after the lockdown. It’s something
people don’t cook so well at home because they don’t have chargrills and they don’t deliver well for takeaways either.
What’s your go-to treat?
I’m a bit of a sweet tooth so I’d have to say sticky toffee pudding – or anything with chocolate in it.
What’s your favourite dish to cook?
Duck breast with plum or blackberry sauce served with Dauphinoise potatoes.
What’s going to be the big food trend for 2021?
Definitely local eating, as I said earlier, and also I think ‘seacuterie’ (like charcuterie but using fish) will be big because it’s healthy and sustainable.
What’s the one thing from your kitchen you couldn’t live without?
Our chargrill, or sous vide machine – a lot of our slow cooked meals start off in there.
What makes Christmas magic for you and what’s your wish for Christmas 2020?
Sharing it with family and friends. It’s a good excuse to see people you don’t see as much as you should and enjoy some good food and wine together. My wish would be for Covid-19 to disappear, or at least find a vaccine for it.
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