Chef Robert Foster on his new ready meal collection

PUBLISHED: 17:50 17 November 2020 | UPDATED: 10:22 18 November 2020

Rob Foster. Image: Luke Britton, Darkroom Photographic Events

Rob Foster. Image: Luke Britton, Darkroom Photographic Events

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The Tadworth chef has launched a range of hearty frozen oven meals

Luxury Fish & King Prawn Pie from the Simply Robert Foster range. Image: Luke Britton, Darkroom Photographic EventsLuxury Fish & King Prawn Pie from the Simply Robert Foster range. Image: Luke Britton, Darkroom Photographic Events

Having worked in an array of kitchens Tadworth-born-and-bred chef Robert Foster is now feeding the local community with his new range of hearty frozen ready meals.

What first inspired you to become a chef?

Cooking with my grandma in her kitchen was what got me interested in catering – learning the secrets of traditional recipes, conjuring new ideas and experimenting with different ingredients. I then did my formal training at Westminster College.

Chicken, Mushroom and Cider Pie. Image: Luke Britton, Darkroom Photographic EventsChicken, Mushroom and Cider Pie. Image: Luke Britton, Darkroom Photographic Events

I’ve since worked across France, Spain and Switzerland, at Boulestin in London and as head pastry chef at Hintlesham Hall in Suffolk before opening my own restaurant, Gemini, in Tadworth.

What was it like to open a restaurant in your home town?

It was my dream. We had the restaurant for 15 years and started it from scratch. It started off very with classic French cuisine and then I became more and more influenced by my travels so the dishes became more modern.

Penang Chicken Curry. Image: Luke Britton, Darkroom Photographic EventsPenang Chicken Curry. Image: Luke Britton, Darkroom Photographic Events

Do you have a speciality?

I love cooking seafood but I wouldn’t say I have a speciality per se. I love creating new dishes and that’s one reason I decided to do the freezer line. I just think there is so much you can do.

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Tell us more about how the line came about...

When I still had Gemini, I went to Walton Heath Golf Club as a hands-on consultant. Then we sold Gemini and I stayed at Walton Heath and ran a small outside catering business from there doing weddings and dinner parties. I also run a company called Simply Puddings, which sells Christmas puddings to the catering trade and to farm shops, hamper companies. Due to the current climate, with weddings on hold and less people having dinner parties, I realised that I needed to reinvent myself and find a way that people could still eat my food.

What dishes can we expect to see?

There are seven dishes at the moment; Moroccan Spiced Chicken Tagine; Penang Chicken Curry; Chicken, Mushroom and Cider Pie; Steak, Mushroom and Pilgrim Ale Pie; Luxury Fish and King Prawn Pie; Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Spinach Satay Curry; and Chorizo and Manchego Mac ‘n’ Cheese. We’ll change the dishes as the seasons change and, as much as I can, I use local ingredients – for the pies we use ale from Reigate brewery Pilgrim, my eggs come from Frith Park Farm in Walton-on-the-Hill and I use the butcher in Walton for my meat also.

If you could create a Surrey-inspired dish, what would it be?

Surrey Hills Autumnal Chicken Chasseur, made with locally-sourced, top-quality dry white wine from Denbies Vineyard, Dorking.

The range is available to order online from simplyrobertfoster.com with free delivery within a five-mile radius of KT20 and is also stocked in Hartleys Food Stores in Tadworth, Betchworth Post Office and Ye Village Butchers in Walton-on-the-Hill. You can follow Rob and keep up to date with new launches on Instagram and Facebook.

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