Forget tired old hors d’oeuvres, Chris Griffett’s catering company is a cut above

Conventional catering. Not the words that spring to mind when you set eyes on Chris Griffett’s creations – the result of experimentation with myriad techniques including smoking, curing and fermentation. After years in acclaimed restaurants, Chris turned to private cooking for high-profile clients in France, Switzerland, Spain and Austria. Now he’s in Bristol, whipping up the likes of spiced crab taco and ale scratching with beer gel and thyme – he kindly filled us in on the story so far…

My first cooking job was at the local fish and chip shop while I was in high school but my first chef job after Birmingham College of Food was at Whatley Manor in Wiltshire – a little different from deep-frying!

Claude Bosi was a real influence – a lot of my friends went on to work for him while he had Hibiscus in Ludlow. It was the name on everyone’s lips. Back then, Glyn Purnell was his sous chef – how well he has done.

I really enjoy cooking a curry at home – being from the West Midlands I grew up eating it a lot and remember my uncle cooking curries to sell at the factory he worked in. The smell of fenugreek takes me back to visiting my cousins in West Bromwich. I’m currently cooking a lot of dhal but also love slow-cooked lamb dishes and homemade naan.

I once cooked a breakfast of chicken soup, potato dumplings and supernoodles for a business meeting in France. I was a little bit confused – but apparently they enjoyed it!

I love our confit duck choux bun with rhubarb textures. I came up with the dish for a canapé event in London and will definitely be keeping it on the menu. Rhubarb is bang-in season and the perfect pairing for duck. We get Creedy Carver duck legs and salt them for 24 hours in a five-spice and juniper salt before we confit them in duck fat.

I think our ability to offer a 100% bespoke menu for any occasion is what makes us stand out. I know a lot of caterers have standard A, B, C or D menus with different price plans but we operate on a different model with no set menus at all. It’s a real treat when we speak to clients who are passionate about food and take an active role in discussing the menu so we can come up with dishes they’re excited about.

Sharing platters are incredibly popular in private catering – something I think Ottolenghi has had a real influence on. People enjoy having an array of food to tuck into and a colourful spread down the middle of the table. We get an increasing number of people asking us about the provenance of our food which is something we really appreciate.

Rare Butchers of Southville are great to work with; they are passionate about sourcing quality free-range, high-welfare meat from the local area and it really shows. The Ashton Court venison is stand-out!

Every meal I have had at Wapping Wharf’s Woky Ko has been consistent and the beef short rib is delicious. I’m looking forward to the second restaurant opening, especially as it’s closer to where I live.

I’ve always been interested in the process of making certain base ingredients – for example, vinegar. While working in restaurants this was generally ordered in and I could never figure out why, when homemade vinegar tastes so delicious. Years ago I worked at The Holt in Devon, and the owner was keen on making his own charcuterie. I learnt a fair bit about this and naturally my curiosity spilled over into fermenting all sorts of things. As I finished my training as a chef, Noma in Copenhagen was taking the culinary world by storm. It was almost like a kickback from the molecular gastronomy era, taking ingredients back to their natural state. Fermenting food is a natural process that mixes the two together, it’s molecular and natural. It has taken a while for these processes to filter down from Michelin kitchens to a domestic setting but now everyone seems to be giving it a go as they realise that it is a fairly straightforward process with great health benefits.