Favourite Tables

Tag: Chef’s Table Chef’s Table

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Chef Stuart Muir of Dine Edinburgh talks to Chef’s Table

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Stuart Muir Dine

 

Chef Stuart Muir is the executive head chef at DINE in Edinburgh. He was born in Stranraer in 1969 and education at Stranraer Academy. His ambition at school: “I always wanted to be a chef. There was nothing else I ever really wanted to do”.

Growing up in is very remote part of Dumfries and Galloway and it’s untouched wilderness, he learned many skills that still serve him well today including how to tie his own Flies for fishing the local rivers for wild trout. His father would also take Stuart shooting for pheasant, duck, geese and pigeon on the nearby moors bring the birds home and hang them up in the families garage. He understood from an early age how to pluck and gut the catch and then alongside his mother in the kitchen the skills of cooking fresh game and fish. This upbringing forged his passion for local, seasonal produce that has been present throughout his career to the opening of his own restaurant, Dine in Edinburgh.

To this day he still holds the accolade of being the youngest Scottish chef to be awarded a coveted  Michelin Star.

Chef’s Table wanted to find out a little more about what other influences help space his menus today of classic brasserie style dishes with an emphasis on Scottish seasonality and locally sourced ingredients.

 


 

CT: Which Chef/s influenced you in the past? Who continuous to influence you now?

SM: For me, it’s always been Rick Stein for his love of seafood and travelling. His innovative dishes never fail to impress.

Rick Stein

 

CT: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

SM: Eleven Madison Park in New York. Owned by esteemed chef Daniel Humm, its evolution in food and culinary experience has put it top of my wish list. I’m desperate to try the famed ten-course tasting menu.

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Website – https://www.elevenmadisonpark.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ElevenMadisonPark/

 

CT: If you could change any misconceptions about restaurants/restaurant food, what would they be?

SM: Dining out and experiencing great food made with locally sourced ingredients doesn’t have to be expensive. When we launched Dine back in 2015 we saw this gap in the Edinburgh market so this has become what the restaurant is all about – affordable yet innovative seasonal fayre in relaxed luxury surroundings.

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CT: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question” 

SM: Grilled langoustines with garlic butter and some crusty bread washed down with Charles Heidsieck’s Blanc des Millénaires

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CT: What is the one piece of kitchen equipment you could not do without and which would you never use or want to see in your kitchen? 

SM: I couldn’t be without my specialist set of knives and there are other’s in the kitchen I wouldn’t use or try.

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CT: What is your favourite dish on the current menu that you have created in the past 6 months and why.

SM: I am loving our hand-dived scallop starter dishes which comes in various incarnations. It’s also a customer winner too.

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CT: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

SM: It would have to be legendary French chef and restaurateur Georges Auguste Escoffier. He popularised and updated French cooking and his disciplined methods and techniques made him a modern cooking visionary.

Escoffier

 


My Favourite Tables– Two restaurants I have visited and why?

  1. Paul Tamburrini’s eponymous restaurant in Edinburgh is a blend of French cuisine and Scottish ingredients – it’s an exceptional experience for the diner and I love his passion for locally sourced produce, especially game.

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Website – www.paultamburrini.co.uk

2) Frog by Scottish chef Adam Handling in Convent Garden is another favourite. His technical skills coupled with inimitable cooking style makes for an outstanding experience.

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Website – www.frogbyadamhandling.com

 

Michelin starred Stuart Muir is executive chef and co-owner of the multi-award winning brasserie, Dine. www.dineedinburgh.co.uk 0131 218 1818

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Favourite Tables Top Ten Restaurants

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The Favourite Tables Top Ten Restaurants from the last twelve months has been compiled from the number of visits to the restaurant’s page on the Favourite Tables website. This was then weighed against the social marketplace of active “Facebook” likes. More weight was given to restaurants with the most recent new likes on Facebook.

Unlike some other “lists” which are compiled from single “Food Experts” comments or the hit and miss “drive-by” reviews some “Travel” websites favour, the Favourite Tables list has been formed from analysing the locations that were most popular with ordinary people using the website to find great places to eat. With the restaurant’s social media activity across Facebook, where real people “like” a restaurant because they genuinely had a good experience and Twitter for follows and re-tweets were added as a rating.

The cumulative total creates a list of the most popular and best-loved restaurants: 


Topping the list is the very popular – Adams Restaurant in Birmingham

Head Chef: Tom Shepherd’s recent Interview with Chef’s Table HERE

Tom Shepherd Profile Adams_001

 

 

The Top Ten UK Places People Have Wanted To Eat At:

 

1) Adams Restaurant – Birmingham   Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 14.43.03

(http://www.favouritetables.com/restaurant/adams/)

Position Last Year – 03

2) Ynyshir – North Wales

(http://www.favouritetables.com/restaurant/ynyshir/) – Head Chef Interview HERE

Position Last Year – Highest New Entry

3) Romulo Cafe – London

(http://www.favouritetables.com/restaurant/romulo-london/) – Head Chef Interview HERE

Position Last Year – New Entry

4) The Dining Room at Chewton Glen – Hampshire

(http://www.favouritetables.com/restaurant/dining-room-chewton-glen/)

Position Last Year – New Entry

5) 64 Degrees – Brighton

(http://www.favouritetables.com/restaurant/64-degrees/) – Head Chef Interview HERE

Position Last Year – 01

6) Lympstone Manor – Exmouth Devon

(http://www.favouritetables.com/restaurant/lympstone-manor/) – Head Chef Interview HERE

Position Last Year – 04

7) The Old Downton Lodge – Ludlow

(http://www.favouritetables.com/restaurant/old-downton-lodge/) – Head Chef Interview HERE

Position Last Year – New Entry

8) The Coal Shed – London Tower Bridge

(http://www.favouritetables.com/restaurant/the-coal-shed-london/)

Position Last Year – New Entry

9) Pale Hall – North Wales

(http://www.favouritetables.com/restaurant/pale-hall/) – Head Chef Interview HERE

Position Last Year – New Entry

10) Prevost – Peterborough

(http://www.favouritetables.com/restaurant/prevost) – Head Chef Interview HERE

Position Last Year – 05
A few restaurants have proved very popular recently and are just outside the Top Ten simply because they have only been listed for a short period so when looked at over the past twelve months the count of visits was lower.

Notably:
Alchemilla – Nottingham (http://www.favouritetables.com/restaurant/alchemilla/)

The Hand – North Wales (http://www.favouritetables.com/restaurant/the-hand-at-llanarmon/)

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We meet with Alex Boyd Executive Head Chef at Caxton Grill for Chef’s Table

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Alex Boyd

 

Alex Boyd grow up in Aldershot and then at the age of 18 moved to London. For two years prior to moving Alex travelled to Westminster College to study for a Professional Chefs Diploma having decided at the age of 12 that a chef is what he wanted to be.

In his second year at college, one of the work placements he attended was at Scotts of Mayfair. Two months in, Alex was offered a position in the kitchen. Not wishing to give up his college position he studied and had the theory in the mornings and worked the late shift at Scotts in the evening, gaining invaluable experience and as he says “best thing I ever did” As a commis Alex worked on all stations and was always asking questions.

His culinary CV continued with time working for Pierre Koffman at La Tante Claire. The “very tough environment” of a Michelin kitchen under Chef Koffman instilling lessons that remain with him today. His career includes working at the Montcalm Hotel, where he progressed from Chef de Partie to Senior Sous Chef in just three months and the Bluebird Restaurant, Chelsea. He was then involved in the launch of the V Restaurant & Bar in Hong Kong, where he spent three years learning new skills and experimenting with a variety of local ingredients. Alex then returned to London to join L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, another two Michelin starred restaurant, before his appointment as Head of Catering at the Lawn Tennis Association. Here he spent six years before leaving for a senior role as Executive Head Chef at The Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London.

 

He is now Executive Head Chef at the St. Ermin’s Hotel and for the Caxton Grill. We chatted to him in the Private Dining room of the Caxton Grill. That morning Alex had already been busy up in the Roof Kitchen Garden on top of the hotel checking on the 350,000 Buckfast honey bees that produce the St. Ermin’s Hotel’s own honey and the homegrown fruits and vegetables utilised in his inspired new afternoon tea and Caxton menus.

 


 

Q: Before you chose to be a chef did you have another career in mind?

A: Racing Driver – I could have been the next Lewis Hamilton…

Karting

Q: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

A:  Alinea in Chicago. I think Grant Achatz is just amazing he is so far ahead of other restauranteurs. So innovative in the plating and the way desserts are served direct on to the tables, definitely somewhere I want to visit.

Grant Achatz (1)

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Also, I have to say I really want to get to the Fat Duck, not managed that yet

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Q: How important is a Michelin star? A chef in France, who has 3 Michelin stars, recently asked that they are removed because of the pressure – your thoughts

A: Its a very interesting topic of conversation. Because you’ve got the customer and you’ve got a chef, and a chef will work hard because for him it’s a status symbol it’s recognition of hours and hours of hard work, pushing the limits, maintaining consistency and training his brigade to put out what you need them to put out. It’s a huge amount of work. From a customers point of view, I think people look to it as a certain standard of food. They like to go, certainly in London, to place they hear about, oh did you know this place has a star, or that place has a star. It can really help business and I think it almost puts you on the map especially in a city where there are lots of great restaurants getting that star elevates you to another status. So, I do think they’re important and I do think the industry needs them it’s almost like getting a BAFTA or an Oscar.

 

 

Q: What do you think about negative reviews?

A: You have to be aware of them but take them with a pinch of salt. I mean it depends if there are constantly negative reviews about a place, that’s telling you something. But if you’ve got a hundred reviews and two of them are negative so the majority of customers are happy, then that’s a good place. I think you need to look at reviews as a bigger picture rather than reacting to one person’s comments. All of the online services like TripAdvisor make it so easy for people to be negative in fact they almost encourage it.  We get it here, but I would personally much rather a customer speak to us at the time and we can sort out the issue and hopefully end up with a happy customer.

Q: Having spent some time in Hong Kong do you use any of the techniques or ingredients from the in your cooking/kitchen now?

A: I would say I’m a lot more comfortable working with asian spices etc. But Chinese cooking is so different to how we cook in the UK. Caxton’s menu is modern British so it would not be appropriate to bring too many Chinese influences into the kitchen, but I do have the techniques if required. There is one dish I would like to maybe try on the menu. I had it a couple of times whilst in Hong Kong, it’s called Scallops baked in Crab Milk. It’s almost like a very light crab mouse with the scallops baked through it. Like a savoury blancmange but full of flavour. I’m trying to emulate it but not totally successfully yet.

 

Q: What are your personal favourite dishes that are currently on the Caxton menus: A) to cook and B) to eat

A: To eat it would be one of the starters. Beef Carpaccio its done with Basil Dressing, smoked almonds and parmesan. We use fillet of beef from a farm we work closely with, in Sussex. It is incredible beef and which we dress with pickled shallot rings, basil leaves and little parmesan croquettes.

Caxton Beef (1)

To prepare would be a salmon dish. We cure the salmon for an hour and then sous vide at 42 degrees to get a really soft melting piece of salmon. Served with Horseradish Cream, Pickled Cucumber and a smoked salmon foam.

Alex Boyd

 

Q: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any chef past or present who would that be and why?

A: oh wow… anyone? Then It would have to be Anton Mosimann he’s an inventor of modern gastronomy, nouvelle cuisine. He was right at the forefront of that and an incredibly knowledgeable chef. I’ve heard he has thousands and thousands of cookbooks, a room full of them apparently and that he is a real gentleman. That would be an incredible opportunity.

 

Anton_Mosimann

 


My Favourite Tables– Two restaurants I have visited and why?

 

Eleven Madison Park

Last year In April I had the chance to visit again 11 Madison Park in New York. The night we were there was the day it was announced they had won the Best Restaurant in the world. Everything about this restaurant is amazing. I would suggest to anyone going there to try the Baked Sweet Potato because whats put in front of you looks just like a piece of baked potato, but when you taste it it’s simply an incredible depth of flavour and texture.

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Website – https://www.elevenmadisonpark.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ElevenMadisonPark/

 

Kitchen W8

I used to live just down the road from here and my wife and I started going when they first opened. Phil Howard is behind the concept and it recently got its first Star. Right from the beginning, you could see that they just wanted to serve really great food

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Website – https://www.kitchenw8.com/

Twitter – @KitchenW8

 

 

 

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At the Chef’s Table – Jeremy Villanueva, Head Chef, Romulo Café London

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Romulo Café London, on High Street Kensington W8, has had remarkable success since opening just over two years ago. It’s now considered the  ‘go-to’ restaurant for fine Filipino cuisine in London. The recent appointment of Jeremy Villanueva as Head Chef has led to a new menu and even greater attention. Like owner Rowena Romulo, Jeremy is on a mission to make fine Filipino food as popular as other Asian cuisines.

Our Chef’s Table team thought we should get to know Jeremy a little better…

 

 


 

CT:  Who influenced you in the past? Who influences you now?

 

JV: Two chefs stand out in my past. One is Richard Blades, who was Executive Chef at Simpsons-in-the-Strand when I joined as a commis straight out of catering college (Blackpool and the Fylde). He had a very well thought out style of management, and a logical approach to his staff. He was a good people manager, and chefs who are good with their people can get a lot out of them. Richard also used to be the Head Chef at the Atlantic Bar and Grill at the height of its fame.

The other is Michel Roux Jr, another great people manager. He had a healthy respect for the traditions and the legacy of his father and uncles. The Rouxs were always firm but they treated their people well. I trained with him at Le Gavroche before going to the Waldorf Club.

Today there is no particular person who influences me, but it’s more the innovations I see in Filipino food right now. Filipino food has evolved so now we look at the food beyond its utilitarian value – as a means of sustenance. Filipino food is as much food for the senses, not just the belly.

 

CT: What would be your last dish (to eat) ‘the death row question’.

JV: A version of Poulet de Bresse. It would be cooked free-range chicken done in the ‘inasal’ style of Bacolod, the capital of the province of Negros Occidental in the Philippines. It would be cooked over Bincho Tan, charcoal from Japan, with a side salad of Cos lettuce, radish and ramsons. I’d wash it down with a glass of fresh calamansi (Philippine lime) juice.

Sizzling Chicken Inasal Sisig (1) 1434296211509

 

CT: If you were not a chef, what could you have become?

JV: To be honest, I would never have considered being anything else but a chef. I decided at 18, and that was it. I’m interested in electronics, but it’s not something I would see myself doing as a job. Once I started to cook, I never looked left or right. I always enjoyed being in the kitchen when I was young. For fun, my uncles used to make pizzas and several kinds of pasta. My family has always been into food.

 

CT: Which restaurant would you like to go to (eat at)? (that you have NOT had the opportunity to visit)

Chef Monica Galetti’s Mere in Charlotte Street. I would tell her, ‘Congratulations, well done.’ I worked with her in Le Gavroche.

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CT: Which are the next ‘new’ ingredients’?

‘Ube’, which is purple yam, and ‘Langka’, or jackfruit. I don’t know of anyone else who uses ube as much as Filipinos do, apart from people in Fiji or Guam. The Filipino community in Hawaii love ube cheesecake. But generally, the purple colour seems to be catching! Langka is the new pork for vegans, meaty and flavourful and very versatile. It can be eaten green or ripe. It can be sweet or savoury. That leaves a lot of scope for chefs. I actually saw fresh langka being sold in Peckham.

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Young Jackfruit and Coconut Stew (1)

 

CT: What is the one piece of equipment you could not do without?

JV: Our Rational oven.

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CT: What is your favourite dish in which you use produce from your most local supplier?

JV: The supplier is obviously not based in London where we are, but my favourite dish is Dingley Dell Pork Adobo. The produce is highly sustainable, and we source it from the only RSPCA accredited suppliers of pork. They create a really good grade of pork, the best quality. Today it’s not so much about the seasoning that creates flavour, although it does, so much depends on the quality of the meat, the primary product.

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CT: If you could invite any chef, past or present, to cook alongside you for one night who would that be and why?

JV: Fernand Point. He was the chef patron of La Pyramidein Vienne, France. His book, ‘Ma Gastronomie’ is one of the first books I read by a known chef. I was fascinated by what he said. One of his signature dishes was a chicken with crayfish. He was of the old school. He still influences the mentality of many kitchens. Many of his quotes endure and continue to guide chefs today, such as ‘Success is the sum of a lot of small things done correctly’ and ‘I’m not hard to please; I’m content with the very best’. Chef Fernand is someone I can imagine cooking with, in the evening, champagne in hand, listening to his musings.

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My Favourite Tables– Two restaurants I have visited and why?

 

Le Gavroche. It’s the traditional service as much as the cuisine. It’s a complete experience. Their service is intuitive. They take care not to make you feel uncomfortable.

Website –  http://www.le-gavroche.co.uk/

Twitter – @legavroche_

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Social Eating House. I like the Blind Pig bar. It’s innovative and exciting. I went to catering school with Chef Paul Hood. If I am not mistaken, I think that out of the 30 of us who went to catering school together, we are the only ones still cooking.

Website – http://www.socialeatinghouse.com/

Twitter – @Socialeathouse

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CT: Finally Is there a message you would like to convey about Filipino food and Romulo Cafe?

 

JV: People should come in and see that ours is not the same as Vietnamese food or Thai.  Filipino food tends to get lumped with other Southeast Asian foods. But ours is different. Even the influences we get from other culinary traditions we have made our own. So our Pollo Relleno is not a lesser version of what they have in Spain. It stands by itself, as do our Callos or Paella. Our Pancit Guisado is not Chow Mein. It is a Filipino dish, and not an interpretation of something else. It has its own terroir.

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Chef’s Table – Anthony Wright – Head Chef L20 Restaurant

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Anthony Wright has been in the hospitality industry for over 17 years working in some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the North West of England. He has worked at Hugh Baird College’s, L20 Hotel School and L20 Restaurant for more than 5 years, starting out as a Sous Chef and taking the reins as Head Chef in 2016.

Since becoming Head Chef, Anthony has furthered the reputation of the L20 Restaurant with an appearance in the Liverpool Cookbook. L20 an open to the public restaurant where students delivering a 100% made on site menu. With Anthony and his team training students in modern cooking techniques in the flagship restaurant. During the college year, the restaurant is open 12-2 Tuesday-Friday lunch with dinner Thursday night 5-8 and we offer Sunday lunch 12-3. They also host guest chef evenings every month and have a themed menu each month.

Recently, he has also given demonstrations at the Southport and Formby Food Festivals. The L20 Restaurant was recently presented with a Highly Commended AA Rosette in the College Restaurant category and the L20 Fish Pie won an award in a food photography competition for the plating presentation.

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Question: Which Chef/s influenced you in the past? Who continuous to influence you now?

Anthony: My chef influences come from Grant Achatz, Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsey and Thomas Keller, each chef is very different but they all produce excellent food. They all continue to influence me day to day and they are always continuing to push themselves. I try to recreate this in the L20 kitchen with our students.

Grant Achatz (1) Heston (1) Gordon ramsey (1) Thomas_Keller_Wiltons

Question: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

Anthony: There are too many restaurants to go on this list. But if I had to choose it would have to be the Holy Grail, Alinea in Chicago. I just love how you’re on the edge of your seat and you question everything that you’re eating.

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Question: If you could change any misconceptions about restaurants/restaurant food, what would they be?

Anthony: Food has become more expensive especially with the dairy market rocketing with crazy prices, plus in general ingredients prices have also increased. So when you’re costing you need to cover for your overheads which include the staff that are cooking and serving the food to the cleaning of the plates. I think the public doesn’t see this side of thinking when it comes to prices. With so many chain restaurants that charge cheap prices on the high street, this is pushing the independent restaurants out of business.

 

Question: Have you been featured or would you like to be featured on any TV food programs, are these types of shows a good thing for the restaurant industry and chefs?

Anthony: I keep considering going on master chef the professionals just to give it a go and see how far I can get. However, the nerves set in and I withdraw the application. I just think the experience would get me with tops chefs like 2 Michelin star Chef Marcus Wareing and Monica Galleti. Sometimes I watch the skills test and I think I could do that. But in front of Marcus and Monica plus the cameras, it seems very daunting. I do think these types of shows showcase the current industry and the skills diversity. You can see what variation of chefs apply and how they improve throughout the show showing that you don’t need a specific skill set to apply.

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Question: If you received a call to say that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, are visiting the Hugh Baird campus and you are asked to create a Lunch Menu, what would you have the student feature?

Anthony: We would love to cook confit trout dish with trout skin quaver, ponzu, apple and watercress. For the main course would be L20s “scouse” or we could do our award winning Fish Pie, followed by my interoperation of a Lemon meringue pie

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Question: What are your personal favourite dishes that have been on menus in the recent terms, A) to cook and B) to eat

Anthony: A)”To Cook” – recently we had a cod dish with bacon, peas, bbq gem lettuce, potato crisp and dashi. Quite a simple dish but the dish is cooked to order, which makes it a good fresh dish.

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B) “To Eat” Would be white chocolate and passion fruit cheesecake with mango sorbet and mango salsa, a very refreshing taste and classic flavours

Question: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

Anthony: I would love to cook in Grant Achatz Alinea kitchen in Chicago. I think he’s at the top of his game and has been for years. He’s a chef who makes the customer question everything they are eating, he brings fun to the dining room with a twist. Foods such as the edible balloon and bbq chicken thigh that cooks unexpected at the table. He brings desserts to life at the table.

Grant Achatz (1)

 

My Favourite Tables– Two restaurants I have visited and why?

 

Restaurant (1): El Gato Negro in Manchester. Great food and drink in a relaxing atmosphere. Sat on the chefs counter here and it’s great to see the food cooked fresh in front of you and the taste is awesome. Reasonably priced plus they stock my favourite beer the Estrella Indeit. @elgatonegrofood. Twitter

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Restaurant (2): Freemasons at Wiswell. Upmarket pub food with a twist and big bold flavours. I’ve dined here a few times and it just seems to get better every time. It must be truffle cheese hot dogs and Lamb fat Brioche (I’m addicted). It’s such a hidden gem in the small village of Wiswell.

@wiswellman Twitter

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At the Chef’s Table with Stefano Turconi of Franco’s

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Stefano joined Franco’s as a senior chef de partie two years after the restaurant’s initial re-design in 2005.  After successfully working in all the sections of the kitchen, he was soon promoted to the position of senior sous chef.  Two years later when the previous head chef resigned, it was an easy decision to promote Stefano to Head Chef Stefano continues to inspire and delight with new dishes on a daily basis.  Although from the north of Italy, Stefano has a passion for many of the ingredients from central and southern regions.  With Stefano’s thoughtful guidance, Franco’s continues to focus on ensuring the consistency and quality of all the products we serve.

 


 

Question: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”

Stefano: Pizza with spicy Calabrian sausage

Calabrian sausage pizza

Calabrian sausage pizza

Question: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

Stefano: I would love to try Osteria Francescana – Massimo Bottura’s 3 Michelin Star restaurant in Modena, voted best world restaurant 2016/18

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Question: How important is a Michelin star? a chef in France, who has 3 Michelin stars, recently asked that they are removed because of the pressure – your thoughts

Stefano: Michelin star it is the very top of the game, but not the most important thing in hospitality, you can have a successful restaurant even without it.

 

Question: What’s the most overused word on restaurant menus’ today

Stefano: These days you can always see in most menu the word’s healthy and light

 

 

Question: If you received a call from Buckingham Palace asking you to create a Dinner Menu with dishes or ingredients from your home region in Italy what would you feature?

Stefano: If I needed to choose ingredients or dishes from Lombardy, It would have to be some risotto some gorgonzola cheese and a pudding made of panettone.

Risotto with Gorgonzola

Risotto with Gorgonzola

Classic Panettone

Classic Panettone

Question: What is your favourite dish on the current Franco’s menu/s in which you use foraged ingredients or produce from your most local supplier?

Stefano: Cornish hake with fennel black olives and saffron

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Question: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

Stefano: Definitely Nico Ladenis OR Marco Pierre White two of the best chefs ever

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My Favourite Tables– Two restaurants I have visited and why?

 

Restaurant (1): Locanda Locatelli: simply the best and most original Italian restaurant in London

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Restaurant (2): Chez Bruce: a very interesting style of food, using various worldwide ingredients

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Chef’s Table chats to Luke French – Chef Patron of Jöro Restaurant, Sheffield.

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Luke French

There are shipping container restaurants and then there are Shipping Container restaurants, Jöro in Sheffield is the latter. The restaurant is situated inside Krynki, a revolutionary new space created to showcase the best and most exciting independent start-ups and businesses from Sheffield, where they can share space, skills and innovative ideas.

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Chef’s Table & Luke French – Chef Patron at Jöro Restaurant in Sheffield

“I started off working as a Kitchen Porter at The White Pheasant in Fordham near Cambridge when I was 14 and then I got really interested in what the chefs were doing. I wanted to have a crack at it so I went full time into the restaurant after my GCSE’s.

I stayed at the Pheasant for about 4 years before moving into Cambridge and working in the university kitchens and local hotels.

“I was very lucky to have a couple of great restaurants locally and spent time at both Alimentum and Midsummer House. Sadly, I didn’t last very long at Midsummer, I bottled it! I was young and I definitely wasn’t ready for it at that time. Looking back I gave up on it way too quickly! I left to do a stage at The Fat Duck and ended up carrying on working there before travelling and working in Asia.

“I was not away long when the opportunity to take on the Head Chef position back at the White Pheasant was offered to me, which I jumped at. It was a couple of years later I moved to Sheffield to join The Milestone Pub Group in which over the six years I worked for them I progressed to Executive Head Chef for the Group.

Towards the end of my time with them, I began a pop-up restaurant called Joro (which translates as ‘Earth’ in old Norse.) to test myself and test the waters of Sheffield to see if they were ready for it. I ran the pop up for around 9 months in which time it gave me space to think and hone in what I really wanted to cook and serve, the style of service, find and train a team, and get some hype for the idea of opening a restaurant.

In December of 2016, we opened restaurant Jöro

Q: Which Chef/s influenced you in the past? Who continues to influence you now?

First of all of the famous chefs was Gordon Ramsay, I remember reading his books and watching him on TV when I was a kid, just starting to realize I enjoyed cooking and didn’t really have a clue about any other chefs in the world, I admired him! He got me interested in the industry. My first head chef Stuart Trangmar was a big influence, he is a great chef and taught me a great deal. He has a great palate and taught me a lot about flavour and tasting food. Heston Blumenthal was a big inspiration to me when I really started to pay close attention to cooking and I was obsessed with the science behind it so naturally, he inspired me a lot.

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I then began to really enjoy naturalness and simplicity of using ingredients once I realized how complex cooking can be but doesn’t have to be – Rene Redzepi and many of the Nordics – based chefs Like Torsten Vildgaard, Matt Orlando, Esben Holmboe Bang to name a few were where I would look to for inspiration. The most present inspirational chefs to me are Gareth Ward from Ynyshir in Wales and Kristian Baumann of 108 in Copenhagen, I really love what these guys are doing in their restaurants. They inspire me a great deal. Of course, my team influence me on a daily basis, they all have similar ways of looking at things and ideas organically come together very well.

Credit: Gareth-Ward-FJONA-BLACK kristian-baumann

 

Q: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”

It would have to be a roast rib of well-aged beef on the bone, with all the proper trimmings.

Roast Aged Rib

Q: Before you chose to be a chef did you have another career in mind?

I wanted to join the military when I was a kid like most young lads probably do! But I was cooking before I left school and it felt good, so I didn’t look back. It’s the best job in the world.

 

Q: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

Too many to mention! But at the top of the list at the moment is Ynyshir, Carters of Moseley and Casamia.

**Fortunately Chef, Ynyshir is featured on Favourite Tables so you can book directly when you’re ready…..

 

Q: Have you ever been presented with a dish/ingredient that you just could not eat and where was that?

I ate at the KOKS pop-up at Den Vandrette in Copenhagen, it was one of my most enjoyable dining experiences I’ve ever had, but there was one dish that I just couldn’t stomach. It was a little cracker with fermented lamb intestine fat shaved over it and it was just insanely strong in flavour, I just couldn’t eat it! I admired and understood the reason they serve it and its traditions, but I just couldn’t do it.

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Q: Which city or country is the most innovative in terms of food?

Personally, I think Either Denmark or Spain – the diversity and creativity coming out of them is insane.

 

Q: What is set to be the next ‘new’ ingredient? And which in particular interests you.

Well, It isn’t new, its thousands of years old but it is only now beginning to really hit a lot of chefs reach, and is gaining more attraction; it is Koji – grains that have been cooked and inoculated with Aspergillus Oryzae (a friendly bacteria). It’s the building blocks for soy sauce, miso, sake and so on.

We have been experimenting with it for over a year now at JÖRO, so early days! But it has completely changed the way we cook now and it is part of our cooking DNA. Incredible stuff. We began using it traditionally to make miso’s and following other recipes we’d researched, and then we took a different path with it and it is used in all sorts from bread to ice creams, brining and curing proteins etc. It is magical stuff.

 

Q: If you could change any misconceptions about restaurants/restaurant food, what would they be?

As a whole, the service we as an industry provide, and the food we deliver to guests is NOT expensive. The time, labour, thought and energy that goes into providing it all is worth far more than what we charge people for it. It really pisses me off when people think they are being hard done by in an honest restaurant providing high levels of food and service (all aspects of it) and I’m not just speaking about my own. We have such a high level of respect for the people that get our ingredients to us, whether it be a wine producer or farmer, and everyone in between. Sometimes this gets forgotten. People don’t think about what it has taken for them to receive it, from the welfare of an animal to sustainable fishing and farming etc to getting ingredients from them to training people to prepare and serve it, energy consumption, the people that take away the waste etc. It’s all relative, people must understand it more and I do think some restaurants give away too much, however, I do think that some milk it a bit too. It’s a tough topic.

 

Q: With the increased TV food programmes, is there a greater rivalry among chefs?

I don’t think so. Healthy competition! I think it has made us all more aware of each other, brought us together and in my opinion, it has made us talk more and help each other out. At the end of the day we always want to be the best at what we do, it’s natural, but I don’t think anyone should have a rivalry as such, surely this would stem from a personal problem between chefs and not what they’ve seen on TV… it’s more inspirational no?

 

Q: How important is a Michelin star? A chef in France, who has 3 Michelin stars, recently asked that they be removed because of the pressure – your thoughts

It is the highest accolade. It would make me very happy if we were ever awarded one, either where we are now or in years to come somewhere else. But first comes having a healthy, growing business, happy staff and happy guests, I think if these boxes are ticked and we get better at what we do every day then we can achieve it. But obviously, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to retain these kinds of accolades. I have seen what it takes to retain stars and it is pretty scary to think about if you were ever in the position where it was your reputation on the line…

 

Q: What do you think about negative reviews?

Some reviews take the biscuit, but the really bad ones are mostly just because some people do not understand or research into what it is we do and what we offer, or they have made it up! But everything is taken on board seriously and looked into.

All negatives lead to positives. It makes us work harder and focus more, failing is learning, learning is knowledge, knowledge is a big part of is what makes us better at what we do.

Everyone expects different levels of service, has different opinions and palates, and of course we can’t please everyone all of the time as much as I’d like us to, but so long as they don’t happen regularly and the business is not affected and what we do every service is the best we can, then I’m happy. You just have to take them on the chin and react proactively.

 

Q: You have said that although you love where the restaurant is right now the plan is to have a restaurant with adjacent access to land/farm (like Winteringham Fields) What influence do you see that having on the menus.

We would have better control over when and what we serve. Nature is my biggest inspiration of all so obviously being surrounded by open land would better our style of cooking better than a steel city, we’d have to travel less to forage, food miles would be less for some ingredients, to be more self-sustainable would be great, having to depend less on others. Ultimately it would just make me a happier chef so naturally I think it would benefit the menu, the happier we are the more creative we are and the better we cook.

Q: What is your favourite dish on the current menu/s in which you use foraged ingredients or produce from your most local supplier?

Wild Mallard with blackcurrant and cabbages. The mallards are shot 8 miles away on the Wortley Estate and brought to us the same day, sometimes still warm! The blackcurrants are from a mile away, picked by the team and preserved, the cabbages are grown half an hour away.

Q: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

Paul Cunnigham (Henne Kirkeby Kro), without a doubt! What a legend. It would be a good laugh with plenty of banter, and the look’s good too!

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My Favourite Tables – Two restaurants I have visited and why?

 

Restaurant (1): Fera at Claridges, London – always a solid meal with great service.

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Restaurant (2): Ashoka, Sheffield – banging curry.

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Head Chef at Adam’s Tom Shepherd talks to Chef’s Table

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Tom Shepherd Profile

Chef Tom Shepherd has a career that includes being Senior Sous Chef in 2 Michelin starred Latymer restaurant at Pennyhill Park Hotel and Head Development Chef at the eponymously name Restaurant Sat Bains, also a holder of 2 Michelin Stars. Tom has recently joined Adam’s in Birmingham which is owned and run by Adam & Natasha Stokes. Adam’s is a 50 cover restaurant in Birmingham city centre on Waterloo Street. Now it’s permanent location having spent almost 3 years as a ‘pop-up’ style restaurant. The restaurant premises has an impressive bar area, private dining room and a chef’s table that overlooks the kitchen.

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Chef Owner Adam Stokes, commented ‘we are really excited Tom is joining the restaurant and looking forward to progressing together, we feel his food ethos and management style will really suit the restaurant’

Tom’s culinary career had more humble beginnings in the Birmingham/Sutton Coldfield area and commented: ‘I am relishing coming to work at Adam’s and alongside Adam and the team to progress to the next level, also that I am returning to my hometown. I  feel that I am joining the best restaurant in Birmingham which has the perfect platform to achieve our targets’.  Could this suggest a second Star for Adam’s is one of this local lads dream targets?

  • How important is it now to be cooking in the town where you grew up?

A. I am delighted to be cooking in my home city, I always knew I would return at some point in my career and for this opportunity it had to be it. I am immensely excited and intrigued to see what the future holds with Adam’s.

  • If you could invite any chef past or present to cook alongside you for one night who would that be and why?

A. Very simple, Gordon Ramsey. He genuinely was and still is a huge inspiration to me. For what he has done, continues to do for our industry also his own achievements are there for all to see. A true legend who I would one day love to meet and maybe even cook for!

Gordon_Ramsay

  • If you could change any misconceptions about restaurants what would they be? 

A. The main misconception about restaurants and food which I would like to change is that some people feel that Michelin star restaurants are posh and stuffy environments that only serve tiny portions of food and you pay a premium for this. This is so far from the truth and the modern interpretation of a Michelin starred restaurant, in actual fact, it is the polar opposite. Here at Adams and many of the top restaurants in the country, we offer an extremely relaxed and comfortable dining experience, that showcases the team’s ethos and skill set of food. Hopefully giving you a meal that surpasses your expectations.

  • If you were not a chef, what could you have been?

A. If I was not a chef I would have been either something to do with sports or racing. I love pretty much all sports from football to fishing and darts to golf. I equally enjoy all types of motor racing, Formula 1, Speedway and Moto GP, so I would definitely be involved in a competitive sport!

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  • With the increases TV food programmes, is there a greater rivalry amongst chefs? 

A. I feel the increase of TV has only strengthened and united the ‘rivalry’ among chefs. It is fantastic that our industry is getting so much coverage and is so popular. There are so many different avenues within this industry and it is great that so many of them are being noticed and prompted. It will only get stronger hopefully with more interest from the new generation of chefs coming through.

  • Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you have not had the opportunity to visit yet)

A. I would love to visit Alinea in Chicago, I have always held this restaurant in very high regard and the book was on another level when I bought it. The food seems so interesting and innovative and it is somewhere that visually excites me and therefore constantly on the top of my ’To go’ list.

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  • What is your favourite dish on the current menu in which you use produce from your most local supplier?
 

A. One of my favourite dishes on the menu at the moment is a Mushroom dish. We use beautiful Scottish foraged Girolles, make a rich roasted puree from the trimmings and it is finished with black truffle, local organic egg yolk, crispy skin also some homegrown micro tarragon. Delicious

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My Favourite Tables – Two restaurants I have visited and why?

  1.  Ynyshir restaurant and rooms – @GarethWard1  – @YnyshirRest

This one is simple, Gareth Ward is cooking the tastiest, flavour driven, locally sourced plates of food in the UK. I love him and Ynyshir. It is the complete package, it is all about flavour and the simplistic yet incredible depth of delivery of every course. I can not recommend it enough!

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  1. Henne Kirkeby Kro @coquus69 @paulfood @hennekro             Paul Cunningham at Henne delivered my best dining experience I have ever had, again local and very much flavour driven but using the best ingredients I have ever eaten. I was spoilt rotten and watched them cook it too. It was unorthodox and the most unique team I have ever seen, an institution in how every kitchen can be run. An amazing setting with amazing people serving and producing some absolute knockout food. The best yet.

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Crockers Chefs Table

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If you’re looking for a different kind of dining experience then ”this could be the place for you. The clue is in the name of the restaurant seating a maximum of 10 around the chef’s table so that you can watch the chef prepare the food right in front of you and also engage in conversation with the chef Scott Barnard & owner Luke Garnsworthy and also with the other guests. On this occasion, there was just the two of us but believe me that didn’t take away anything from a fantastic Tasting Menu Lunch where the food was amazing and matched with a great choice of wines. We started with a lovely selection of snacks before we tried the fantastic Tring Brewery Bread & Marmite Butter.

Then a nice refreshing Sardine & Tomato course this was followed by an Aerated Pea & Broad Bean Soup before a delightful Plaice course with a fricassee of Lobster & Cauliflower.  Then came the main a fantastic Rump of Lamb a Caesar Dressing & Baby Gem Lettuce. The next course was cheese but not what you think as it was a Lancashire Bomb cheese and homemade Piccalilli served on a cracker and it was amazing.

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Then followed a refreshing pre dessert before yes dessert itself a Chocolate & Tonia Bean Cremeaux, Kirsch parfait , poached cherries & almonds this brought to end a great lunch which I would highly recommend whether you’re a couple a small group plus the fact that the menu is changed every month which also makes it ideal if you decide to become a regular customer which I myself could quite easily become

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Autumn/Winter Newsletter for Restaurants

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Click Here for the latest Favourite Tables Newsletter

  1. The Roster of Great Restaurants Continues to Grow

  2. Now in their third year on Favourite Tables

  3. Chef’s Table a very popular Read

  4. Some great restaurants and gastropubs are “not on the high street”

  5. #FTbadboys a fun Twitter Photo Competition

  6. Coming soon FTbadboy Burgers and Sausage Rolls

 

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