From a young age I remember being fascinated by the way in which my grandmother, known to me as “Mama”, measured out the ingredients to make scones. It was almost a science, approached like an experiment – with very tasty results. I would go with her to open up the pub on cold mornings, and tuck into things like ham, egg and chips, or a meat and potato pie for my dinner. Cooked from scratch, it was pub grub done properly, unlike the bought-in stuff that you often find knocking around these days.

The family has strong ties to The White Hart in Minster Lovell. Around 12 years ago my mum, Mandy, and step-dad, Brian, used to run it. So it was here that, as a 15 year-old on work experience, I found myself up to my elbows in dirty pots or a huge pile of potato peelings. I then took my first full time job at The New Inn, Minster Lovell and worked alongside Mat Tucker and Rich Lenik, who helped me as a chef and person.

After a hiatus, my mum and Brian returned to the pub that had been left in a state of almost disrepair, and I was appointed as head chef. Who would have thought that I would one day be running the first professional kitchen I’d ever set foot in?

I have so much freedom at The White Hart to create what I want and it’s been a huge learning curve discovering what works and what doesn’t. The same ethos still runs throughout; the ingredients are fresh, seasonal and locally sourced. The community is at the heart of this place and we couldn’t do it without local trade from Minster Lovell and Witney.

Inspired by the good old creature comforts of British food, my debut cookbook Whipped & Charred is a celebration of all things classic, featuring 80 stunning recipes that reflect my family roots and passion for good food. The book is full of rich, homely content and a few memories and insights into my personal life and time working as a chef.

There are a few reasons why I wanted to do this book. Firstly, it’s a tribute to my late father, Ian Curtis, who sadly passed away at Christmas in 2014. He was as passionate as me about my dream, and I think seeing this book in print would have made him very proud. Secondly, is that it’s a personal dream of mine and finally this is my chance to give something back to all of the people who have supported me - my friends and family This book is not about flash food, and everyone from beginners to experts will be able to give these recipes a go. They are tried and tested and I’ve done my best to create a diverse range and cover pretty much all bases, from staple sauces to a couple of cocktails!

My aim is to raise both money and awareness for two wonderful charities. First is the British Heart Foundation; secondly is MIND, a charity for better mental health.

I hope you’ll have fun exploring the recipes of my book. All you need is an open mind and a love of good food!