Favourite Tables talks to Chef Lee Redman of the newly opened The Jetty at Brighton’s Harbour Hotel for “Chef’s Table”
FT: are you a born Chef?
Lee: it does feel like that! I’ve been in kitchens since the age of 13. Like most teenagers, I wanted more cash in my pocket, so took on a weekend job working in a local pub. Like a lot of chefs I talk to, I started as a pot washer and stuck at it… it must’ve been the £3.15 per hour! Then slowly I started learning how to prepare and cook (I remember endless amounts of peeling and sorting parsley!) Once, when the owners were away, the agency chef covering messed up and from then on I got more and more involved in the kitchen.
FT: How did thing progress for you?
Lee: I completed a three year course at a local college, 2 years studying an AVCE in Hospitality & Catering Industry, then a further year completing Level 3 NVQ Practical Cookery & Food Service. I moved from that first pub to a local bistro/restaurant and then to a local hotel. I landed my first Head Chef job at the very young age of 22 at a beautiful gastropub near Arundel and retained 1 Rosette, before moving on to London as it was always a wish to further my knowledge working there.
Here I started working at The Stafford Hotel in St. James’s as Junior Sous. After three years moving to The Bluebird in Chelsea which is a 2 Rosette Brasserie, then on to Galvin at Windows in the Park Lane Hilton which has 1 Michelin Star and 3 Rosette where I ran the the fish section.
FT: Who has influenced or helped you along the way?
Lee: After a few years in London the Head Chef from The Stafford Hotel, Chef Mark Budd, approached me. We had worked really well together and our styles of cooking complemented one another. Mark asked me to come and work back in Sussex as his Senior Sous at Alexander House Hotel & Spa. Here I was given the opportunity to work across the kitchen and we took the Hotel from a 4 Star to 5 Star, and the restaurant to 3 AA Rosettes, whilst retaining 1 Rosette in the Brasserie
FT: Would you say you are settled in your style and how would you describe it?
Lee: I would say my approach to food is to always strive to get the best out of the ingredients, from sourcing the correct quality and as local as possible through to executing precisely on the plate. My style would have to be classic French / British with modern touches. As to being settled, I will focus on the classics, however I am keen to learn new techniques and styles and will incorporate those that can help me deliver exciting seasonal dishes with great flavours to our customers.
FT: How did you find yourself working in Brighton?
Lee: I believe I have built a good reputation working within Hotel restaurants and was approached about the possible position of Head Chef for what would be a totally refurbished Brighton Hotel, which had me already interested. When finding out the group was Harbour Hotels, it was literally a no brainer. The company is extremely well set up with good solid knowledge through all departments in all venues, award winning & great place for a chef. We have developed a great menu and I am lucky in having an incredibly talented brigade working with me. The Jetty has really achieved incredible results and we are getting full services every day and incredible customer feed back.
FT: What are your favourite dishes to cook at home and in the restaurant?
Lee: That is a hard questions for any chef to answer because of using seasonal ingredients and what’s available……….You’re not going to let me away with that answer are you….
OK, If I’m cooking at home for my wife then it has to be my Beef Chilli and I add a few squares of dark chocolate (trust me!) It has to be good quality chocolate I use Valrhona
In the restaurant the best dishes are those when you don’t do too much to the signature ingredient. I love to use Hand Dived Scallops and my favourite dish is Scallop, oyster emulsion, oyster leaf, oyster foam, tempura cockles, razor clam, pickled kohlrabi, seaweed butter. It is great to eat and really keeps the freshness of the sea.
FT: now chef, where are your two favourite tables, the restaurants you like to visit when ever you can?
Lee: Locally I’ve been eating at one of the restaurants belonging to a small group called the Gingerman company, the Ginger Pig in Hove is a real favourite at the moment, great menu, lovely presentation and flavours with all locally sourced produce and clever usage of it.
When I get up to London then it’s Gilgamesh right by Camden Market. The presentation of the food is just brilliant and so fresh. As it’s Pan-Asian you can have dishes from across the region Sushi, Dim Sum, Tempura and Wok dishes
FT: When we asked if you were a born chef you laughed, can we ask why…..
Lee: Ah you noticed.. I know many chefs would say they were inspired by their Grandmothers or Mothers and in a way my mum did get me interested in cooking, it was a survival thing………..(her cooking was terrible). please don’t send this to her! But she did burn most things and then just flip it over and dish it up, sorry mum! So I was inspired to to become a good cook……my mum still tells me how to cook when I visit, thanks mum!
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The Boiler Room is a stunning restaurant in the heart of the Old Market area of Omaha. It’s not a cheap bite to eat but it will never disappoint you.
Being in the middle of the states, finding decent seafood can be a struggle but this restaurant certainly knows what they’re doing. Fresh fish and seafood is flown in daily (never, ever frozen). Their menu is exquisite and has a huge European influence. I think this comes from both the French owners and the German/American head chef.
The atmosphere is very romantic and the decor is a fine balance of industrial and chic.
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