A Cooking Constitution:
In October 2010, following a rather awkward interview on Radio 4, Bryce Chartwell produced a statement on his cooking philosophy. The statement evolved into a written constitution, which is now memorized by each staff member that works at The Last Parsnip restaurants.
Our values drive everything we do
Passion, excitement, risk
We are guided by our values. They infuse our work and soak through everything that we do. We are steeped in them as a quality tea-bag steeps in its own juices. They permeate our experience, and breathe life into all of our gastronomic creations.
Firstly we are driven by a passion for what we do. Our love of cooking, our desire to push the boundaries of culinary acceptability and excellence gets us up on a morning. It gives us the fire in our bellies to create truly exceptional dishes, and to confront our most naïve customers with the brutal honesty of their own inadequacies.
Secondly we bring an excitement to everything we do. Life at The Last Parsnip is never dull, never boring. The only time the volume level descends to that where you can hear yourself think is after we’ve closed the door at night. We embody and embolden our work with an unusual intensity. It shows in our highly driven, slightly maniacal staff, and it shows in the breathtaking dishes that we create.
Lastly we believe that nothing is worth doing without a frisson of risk. Eating is never dull at The Last Parsnip – and quite often it is rather dangerous. We believe that’s the way it should be - and that’s why you sign the legal waiver when you enter the restaurant.
We bring long forgotten masterpieces back to life
We have a true sense of history at The Last Parsnip. Not just from our location, set in a village that was at the heart of the pastry industry in England for six centuries. Nor from our English restaurant that has stood in its slightly dilapidated state for over four centuries. Largely though this comes from the culinary experiences that we dredge from the past and drag into the present. We’ve trawled the hidden recesses of dusty Victorian cookbooks, and mercilessly questioned octogenarian chefs from the pubs and restaurants of middle England. We’ve scanned the internet for curious relics, and even employed college students to access the closed-off parts of their college libraries. We’ve done this to resurrect long forgotten chef d’oeuvres and present them again in the 21st century.
Precision and serendipity offer the true path to gastronomic perfection
Just as light exists as duality, wave and particle in blissful harmony, we believe that gastronomic perfection co-exists between precision and experimentation. Duality therefore defines our approach - and permeates our modus operandi.
We strive to reproduce our tried and trusted recipes with absolute precision, because we understand that even the smallest variations in technique can ripple through to the final result. The so-called Butter Fry Effect suggests that even the slightest perturbations in, for example, the preparation of sauteed butter can produce a shockingly disappointing meal. In reproducing our selected historical recipes we therefore adhere to the stricted discipline in measurement and technique.
However, we also believe that there is something truly unpredictable about gastronomic perfection. The path to an outstanding culinary experience is not always deterministic – it cannot be measured and perfected in a spreadsheet. Rather it requires experimentation – it is a process of trial and error. We therefore also practice a technique known as Stochastic Gastronomy - a computational intensive approach to approaching recipe specificity.
The ultimate goal, a singularity of gastronomic perfection, is what we call Reciprocity. The point at which the full potential of a recipe is realized in one blissful mouthful.