Stephen Harris' Lockdown Life
The award winning founder chef of The Sportsman has been spending time writing his first, Gothic, novel and enjoying the slower pace of life
Plenty of successful chefs will talk up their restaurant and surroundings with almost as much panache and aplomb as they use when naming their dishes. Stephen Harris, of The Sportsman in southern England, is not one of them.
The British chef and Phaidon author is relatively comfortable hearing his award-winning seaside pub restaurant being described as a once “grotty run-down pub by the sea.”
So it's perhaps no surprise that during enforced lockdown while that once "grotty pub" has had to shutter its doors, he has been working on a new endeavour, once again, from a characteristically self-deprecating POV.
"It sounds like a cliché but like a lot of people I have finally had time to write my novel!" Stephen tells us from the Kent countryside.
"It is a Gothic novel about a chef who is not very good. I am not sure I can cut it in this area so it will only see the light of day if I think it is any good.I have been working on it since the beginning of the year."
Harris is not one for being daunted by trying his hand at a new challenge. He was originally the guitarist in a teenage punk band, then trained as a history teacher and worked in finance before becoming a chef.
Indeed, his love and feel for history will be well known to anyone who has read his book The Sportsman, particulary the parts where he writes so fascinatingly about the land around his Seasalter, Kent pub, which has apparently produced fine ingredients since medieval times.
An it's a love of storytelling that's evidently rubbed off on his 7-year-old son, with whom he's been enjoying spending time with during lockdown.
"His Mum is home schooling him and I try and relieve her in the afternoons by playing football, watching films, cooking and talking about history. His history knowledge is extraordinary and I am a very proud Dad."
"People would often say, before the lockdown, that they wish they could stop the world for a bit. Well now that it has stopped, enjoy it! I am enjoying it as much as I can.
"When the lockdown is done I am going to take my son, Stanley, to London for a great meal, a visit to the British Museum to see the Inca and Aztec room. We are then going to stay at a nice hotel. I can’t wait!"
Here's hoping that Stephen is back behind the grill and bar of the Sportsman soon - with another bestseller ready to serve up.
If you can't make it to Kent you can visit The Sportsman in the pages of his book. Much more than a cookbook The Sportsman tells the story of the transformation from sticky carpet boozer into an internationally acclaimed restaurant, serving innovative regional cuisine and acquiring a well-deserved cult following around the world.