Anyone who has chatted with 34-year-old Bedford might quickly guess he grew up in England. Bedford’s culinary interests started at an early age, he says, enamored by his mother’s home baking and helping his father water the vegetable garden. After graduating from Yeovil College in Somerset with a Diploma in Hospitality, he took on his first full-time job in 1996. He became an apprentice at The Castle Hotel, a Norman fortress built in the 12th century, where he worked under esteemed British chef Phil Vickery. The Castle, like Fearrington, is a family-run property, known for fostering up-and-coming chefs. In 2000, Colin relocated to Canada and began working at The Prince Of Wales Hotel, a Four-Diamond CAA/AAA restaurant offering a la carte dining and conference/catering facilities in Niagara-on-The-Lake, Ontario. He was soon promoted to the position of Junior Sous Chef, where he gained exposure to farm to table cuisine and realized that “simplicity is key to maximizing flavors.”
Chef Bedford was recruited to The Fearrington House in 2005 as Executive Sous Chef. He became Executive Chef in 2008 and has transformed culinary programs throughout Fearrington Village and taken cuisine at The Fearrington House Restaurant to a higher level.
What was your most moving culinary experience?
This is my first appointment as an executive chef so after getting my feet wet for a year, I then wanted to go out and learn and see what other restaurants were doing. In the winter of 2009 I went to Eleven Madison Park in NY and this quite honestly was one of the best dinners from start to finish I have ever had. They have something very special there. It made me push my learning curve to the fullest and that is why this industry is so great - you are constantly learning and there are so many great chefs out there doing great things….
What was the most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
Kitchens are great places to be and the dynamic of camaraderie, teamwork and friendship is an integral part of our lives as we spend more time with co-workers than family, friends and loved ones. Kitchen humour is always the silver lining through the cloud. In my first job we got a new cook to take 12 lobsters, 6 in each hand for a 10 minute walk around a tile floored kitchen to “release all the enzymes from their legs back into the tail preventing it being chewy”. Needless to say I have plenty more. This was in 1998 and it feels like it was yesterday.
Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Sometimes the amateur cook gets wrapped up in the preparation, cooking and probably setting the table. It is important to write an action plan the day before with a clear head so you can remember everything you have to do as you can forget things when you feel the pressure. Logistics is another simple aspect people over look, if you have five sauce pots that need to be on the stove and you only have four burners then you have a problem. Don't be afraid to make mistakes - we do all the time! However, lots of good ideas come out of them.... Remember the five key elements sweet, salty, acid, texture and most important balance.....