Ian Middleton

Taste Buds talks to the Head Chef at Dukes in Sidmouth about his enthusiasm for his work

Chef Interview

How long has Dukes been running?
Dukes has been running for 12 years, and I took over as Head Chef about 18 months ago.

Your inspiration?
I find inspiration by working with good-quality local produce and having the sea on my doorstep, as well working alongside a great team.

Sum up your cooking style in three words.
Simple, seasonal and tasty. 

Must-try dish on your menu?
I would suggest diners try the Trio of Fish, which consists of pan-fried gurnard, John Dory and lemon sole with a roasted vegetable, caper and tomato butter. This is by far our biggest seller!

Local produce to eat now?
Lyme Bay crab and mackerel are perfect fish to eat in May and June. Our ethos is all about serving relaxed, informal food and our daily menu lets the quality of our fresh fish, meat and game shine. We bake all our scones and cakes in-house too. 

Do you prefer to eat in or out?
I prefer to eat out, but with a young family it can be quite hard at the moment. 

Savoury or sweet?
As I have become older, I have developed more of a sweet tooth. I prefer dishes that are not heavy though, such as a good crème brûleé or a panna cotta.

Local chef you’d love to meet?
Nathan Outlaw. I have eaten a number of times in his restaurants and he is just over the border in Cornwall.

Top tip for budding chefs?
Work hard and stay focused, and be prepared for your life to change. Being a chef is not just a job, it will become your way of life. I do not know anything else that would give me the same degree of satisfaction every day, hence the reason why I have been in the trade for 22 years. 

Favourite kitchen gadget?
Thermomix – it’s great for sauces!

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