Meet the chefs of tomorrow: April 2016 at Brunswick House
March 28, 2016
Here are the four chefs and their dishes. Although from a range of different restaurants and backgrounds, they all have the same interest in the simplicity of produce and getting the best out of their ingredients.
Alex Garrett-Jones, Chef de Partie at Brunswick House
Good food was always a feature in my upbringing. My mother had an obsession with producing food from scratch, I remember her personally jack hammering the concrete patio to make way for a vegetable garden, it was an essential accompaniment to the chickens that already occupied the un-concreted section of our backyard. I never consciously decided to become a chef but I'm deeply motivated by that early exposure to fresh produce and hooked on the perpetual sense of learning something new that comes from being in a kitchen.
Whilst I can say that any type of fungus or cheese are the fast track ways to my heart, the aspect of cooking I find most enjoyable is getting the best out of what is available season to season. I revel in the challenges that the limitations of seasonal produce bring to our creativity, I think these boundaries often lead us to flavour combinations that make perfect sense as well as encouraging us to explore preservation techniques to circumvent those seasonal obstacles.
My earliest food memories involve large family gatherings around holidays. Every year at Christmas my aunt Brigitta would produce a mighty spread of roast turkey, roast ham and the best German potato salad you'll find in the southern hemisphere (and most likely the north). My mother, the only vegetarian in the mix, would supply the spanakopita, which would sit as just an impressively delicious centerpiece as the bird or swine. Food was something we converged over, something which was made to show affection and appreciation. My family is a family of feeders.
I draw inspiration from a number of sources in the industry, mostly from the extensive array of cultures I was exposed to growing up in Sydney but also from the people that I have worked with closely both past and present. I appreciate tradition and innovation and I respect all forms of these expressions.
Lincolnshire Quail, Broad beans and Whey
Max Maclean, Chef de Partie at Pidgin
I first started cooking at 17, and started to really find my passion and drive to be a chef at 18.
My favourite ingredient is probably a perfectly ripe tomato. Like the Raf variety that came around this year, they were stunning. Ingredients like that reminds me that good produce needs no manipulation. Its thoroughly exciting to eat something so sweet, acidic, crunchy, smooth and wholesome.
My first food memory is probably being force fed tuna pasta bake at primary school. I've never lost sight of what I fight against :) My first positive food memory would be eating copious amounts of brown bread and butter on my family's farm on the north coast of Scotland.
Magnus Nilsson is a constant source of inspiration, his perspective is always refreshing.
Red mullet, jasmine rice broth, charred cucumber
Ross McGrath, Chef de Partie at Duck & Waffle
I got into this industry a bit later than most people do, being a chef was not something I thought about when I was in school, although I did love to cook, I was more interested in science and so went off to university and started studying biotechnology, however, I realized I didn’t want a future in science and so i left after three years. My interest in food and cooking had grown; I had two friends that were chefs in the local hotel, I asked for a job and was lucky to get it. I instantly just fell in love with the kitchen, the work, the noise, the people, the pressure, everything!! There’s an energy that you find in the kitchen that just got me hooked straight away and for the first time I was passionate about what I was doing.
My grandmother's homemade brown bread - I was lucky enough to live with her and so every other day she would always make her brown bread. I would watch her standing at the table with all the ingredients around her, make up this bread mix in minutes, no recipe of course, this was all done by sight. She would bake it in an old cast iron pot in the range oven. I can still smell it cooking. Once it was done she would take it out and place it on a wire rack and warn me and my cousins, who could smell it cooking next door, not to touch it until it had cooled down. Of course we couldn’t wait and once she would be out of the room we would have a quarter of it sliced, buttered and jammed and would run out the house down the road happily eating it.
I don’t think I have just one favourite ingredient. To me it really all depends on the season and using ingredients at their best. Right now coming into spring its, wild garlic. – which I use in my dish. I like to use it not just for its flavour but for the memories I have of it. In the last restaurant I worked in backed in Ireland, I would forage it on my walk to work and use it in the restaurant. think its great that a ingredient like that can show you the change in the seasons, instill string memories and taste great!
My ‘heroes’ in this industry are always evolving, from the more obvious choices when you start out in the industry to maybe more specific ones later on. Right now I really like the work that Dan Barber of Blue Hill Farm in New York is doing. He's creating an awareness in people about how good farming and good food combine and what we need to do to change the bad practices we have let develop over the years. His book "The Third Plate" is a great read.
Also I think some of the biggest heroes in this industry are the farmers, producers and fishermen who work so hard to get us the produce we need to do our jobs. There’s some great people out there doing great work and that’s something I think that we need to do more about in highlighting them and what they do and getting them the credit they deserve
Lamb, potato, cockles, wild garlic
April Partridge, Demi Chef de Partie at The Clove Club
I didn't always want to be a chef, I had a keen interest in art and music and thought I would pursue those interests for a long time, but at 15 I did a two-week work experience as a chef in Pall Mall and fell in love with the kitchen.
On the back of that I was entered into the Rotary Young Chef competition where I met executive head chef Gary Lee who offered me a Saturday job, it was at that point of working in a kitchen every week that I realised I wanted to be a chef. The more I learnt the more I enjoyed it, I was lucky enough to work with people who really had faith in me and wanted me to do well, which was a big deal and a huge inspiration.
What's my favourite ingredient? Now that is a million-dollar question!! I don't have just one. At the moment I'm a big fan of Quinoa, it's so versatile. I love the nutty flavour it has and the texture. I like to use it from starters all the way through to deserts as you will see on my course for Chefs of Tomorrow.
One of my earliest food memory's is going to get pie, mash and liquor with my dad, still love it to this day. Reminds me of my childhood!
I have a lot of people who I admire in the industry but I would say my food heroes are my step dad Nigel Stokes and my old mentor Gary Lee. Both brilliant chefs and always there to give me solid honest advice to help me progress and help pick me up when times get hard. My ultimate hero in life is my mum for sure though.