Often hidden away in the kitchen, we put the spotlight on local chefs to discover the men and women under the white hat. This month it's the turn of Philip Storey, head chef at The Black Rat, in Chesil Street, Winchester

How long have you been in the post?

Since the restaurant opened in June, 2007

When did you first know you wanted to become a chef?

I was temping whilst doing an engineering degree, and realised I enjoyed the kitchen more!

Who were the people who inspired you in the early days?

I had a couple of books, one by Raymond Blanc and the other by Nico Ladenis, which were inspiring reading and had some great food.!

Where did you train and what was your first job as a chef?

I didn't take the traditional route of college, but worked in various kitchens. My first experience of fine dining was a five-star hotel, The Milestone, in Kensington. I started as a commis chef and worked through the ranks.!

What do you like about being a chef?

The physicality of it - rather than the desk job I was heading for - and the stress, heat, and excitement of the kitchen environment. The praise you get is also good, which is something you don't frequently get in an office.!

What's your favourite food and why?

I adore cooking and eating fish soup (bouillabaisse). It's a very satisfying dish to make, and to get a deep, complex flavour takes great ingredients along with careful and loving preparation. It's a joy to cook and eat.!

Is there anything you would never be willing to cook?

I'm not sure, nothing as yet! I'm always up for a challenge and seem to be able to make most things taste good. We have a point at The Black Rat of serving some unusual items.!

Have you ever worked with or met any esteemed chefs?

I recently met James Martin.!

What do you think about the cult of celebrity chefs and do you have a favourite?

The lack of skills some people have in the kitchen amazes me, so television chefs are helpful in inspiring and generating interest. My favourite is Rick Stein, although most television chefs are there for entertainment, rather than skill.!

What can't you do without in your kitchen?

I love mouli légumes, a sieve with a handle that pushes things through like a food mill. It's great for the smoothest mash, or a wonderfully textured soup.!

What's your top tip in the kitchen?

Wash up as you go. Being clean, tidy and organised is the key.