- Macknade Fine Foods

Paul Gunner

Paul joined us as Café Manager in 2015 and keeps everything running smoothly (whilst having a good laugh along the way!).

I have been working in the local pub and catering trade for over twenty years and have had the pleasure of using Macknade in a professional and private capacity. When the opportunity came to work here I jumped at the chance and as any chef would tell you, the opportunity to get paid to experiment with the boundless variety of quality ingredients available at Macknade is one not to miss out on.

After years of working late nights and split shifts, this opportunity has given me a better work/life balance. I am now able to spend more quality time with my children and there is nothing we all enjoy more than a walk through the village, around Chilham Square, before heading home to a big family roast with all the trimmings (and yes we may break tradition but we have to have Yorkshire puddings with every meat!).

We all have a love of cricket and hockey and although my playing days are far behind me I still enjoy watching it whenever I can. I stick to the sedate sport of darts now and have been helping to run the Teynham and district darts league for over 14 years.

The top five ingredients on my Macknade shopping list are...

Goat’s Cheese Gorgonzola: A soft creamy delicacy with a distinctive taste that is hard to beat.

Olives: Any selection from the counter is a delight to savour with a glass of wine after work.

Black Bomber Cheese: A strong cheddar but so creamy and smooth it is hard to beat on my Christmas cheeseboard (or any other time of year I get to open a bottle of vintage port!)

Quiggins Butter Fudge & Marzipan Bar: A sumptuous treat to enjoy… and my way to guarantee being in the girlfriends good books when I get home.

Boerewors Sausage: From our butchery department, a flavoursome South African sausage that has become a firm family favourite over the last few weeks and now I can’t imagine a cooked breakfast without it.

An interesting fact about myself is...

Despite having the surname Gunner I am an avid lifelong Tottenham Hotspurs fan.

My last meal would be...

To start I would have a huge plateau de fruits de mer. There is something about the freshness of the seafood served in France… absolutely sublime served with a chilled Pouilly Fuissé.

My main course would have to be my Nan’s steak & kidney pudding, with buttered new potatoes, baby carrots and cabbage, served with a bottle of Mercurey 1er Cru from the Pillot vineyard in France – a family favourite destination.

Dessert would be my homemade gypsy tart served straight from the oven with lashings of double cream.

I would have to finish with a cheese board and a bottle of Dows 1963 vintage port.

If I managed to eat and drink all that in one sitting I would definitely be content!

My food hero is...

Nigel Slater.

I have always loved his recipes and the way that he cooks with seasonal produce lets the food do most of the work for you. He also suggests some very interesting flavour combinations and some really useful quick dishes that are great for those with busy schedules, who still like to eat proper food and not rely on packaged ready meals.

Recipes I want to share...

My Italian Chicken

Butterfly a chicken breast and cover it with spinach and a piece of chilled gorgonzola (any soft cheese will work but make sure it is well chilled so it doesn’t ooze out before the chicken is cooked). Add another layer of spinach, roll it up so the chicken covers the filling and wrap it in two pieces of Parma ham (or more if you’re feeling extravagant!). Rub with a little olive oil and bake on a tray in a fan oven for 20-25 minutes at 180c.

Whilst this is cooking, prepare some sauté potatoes by boiling cubes of potato for a few minutes until they are semi-soft. Drain and then fry them in olive oil & a knob of butter with a handful of finely chopped onions, diced garlic, rosemary, thyme and freshly ground black pepper.

I would serve the dish with blanched mangetout and a sundried tomato sauce. You can cheat and buy a jar from Macknade, but if you want to make it yourself, here’s the recipe… Put diced tomatoes , finely chopped red onion, garlic, half a dozen sundried tomatoes and a splash of good quality olive oil into a pan and slowly sweat them down whilst the chicken is cooking. Simmer until the chicken is cooked, add a few fresh basil leaves and blitz together with a blender. If it is a little thick just loosen it with a splash of vegetable stock!

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