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    Specialist recruiter to the Catering and Hospitality Industry. Our values: Professionalism, Integrity, Flexibility, Partnership

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  • Mise en Place

    Specialist recruiter to the Catering and Hospitality Industry. Our values: Professionalism, Integrity, Flexibility, Partnership

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    Specialist recruiter to the Catering and Hospitality Industry. Our values: Professionalism, Integrity, Flexibility, Partnership

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  • Mise en Place

    Specialist recruiter to the Catering and Hospitality Industry. Our values: Professionalism, Integrity, Flexibility, Partnership

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Posts Tagged ‘mise en place hospitality’

Eat My Words – Dan Catford

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

We have been joined this week by highly creative and passionate Head Chef at  The Lamb at Angmering Dan Catford. You can follow what Dan gets up to on his blog that includes many scrumptious treats for your eyes and mouth.  Keep a look out for him being featured over at Visionary Dining in the coming weeks. You can find  him on Twitter

What made you want to be a chef and what’s your favourite thing about what you are doing now ?

I always had a love for food. My earliest memory would be standing on a stool helping my nan peel roasted peppers for a party my family where having. My passion for food then grew and thought the most natural path for my career would be to become a chef.
My favourite part about the job, especially at The Lamb at Angmering, is being able to have a free reign of the kitchen. Being able to put dishes on that I like and that I can tweak and play with to get a great menu. I love the buzz of a Saturday night service when your full and that first check comes on , it’s like going into battle !

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement so far and what do you have in the pipeline?

My biggest achievement so far would be getting this head chef job so early into my career at the lamb ! I have a few things in the pipeline that I hope to achieve though one being getting a rosette for the lamb and second hoping to start up my own venture one day starting off with my pop up restaurants around Sussex and surrounding areas cooking modern British food in a relaxed atmosphere. I also have a photo and video shoot with visionary dining.com which I am very much looking forward too.

Which chefs inspired you growing up?

My biggest influence in my career would probably be my executive chef from bailiffs court hotel, Martin Hadden. Martin taught me everything and suppose could say made me the chef I am today. But other chefs that inspire me now are Tom Kerridge, Tom Aikens, Paul Ainsworth, Heston Blumenthal, Simon Rogan and Ernst Van Zyl

Where was your last dining out experience? How was it?

My last dining experience was at a local Tex Mex restaurant called limings which was not great at all to be honest ! Starters were good but mains where poor and not value for money

What’s your favourite local restaurant and favourite meal?

My favourite local restaurant for everyday meal would be a little Thai restaurant called Lemongrass who make a damn good massaman curry ! For a special occasion I love the pass at South Lodge Hotel. The food I had there last time I went was easily best meal I’ve had. Matt Gillan is a great chef and rightly deserves his star and four rosettes.
My favourite meal, although I spend my time cooking fine dining food with the best ingredients, would have to be chicken enchiladas, nachos and guacamole.

Who inspires you now and who would you really like to work with?

Everything inspires me from my wife to be, to my great sous chef Richard Cook, to seasonal produce, the great chefs I’ve already mentioned and the world around me. I’d really like to work with Tom Kerridge as he is an amazing chef, to have two Michelin stars for a pub is outstanding and would love to learn from someone that skilled, plus he looks like a good guy to work with.

Best piece of advice to someone wanting to be a chef?

Be passionate, listen to everything you hear in a kitchen whether it’s the head chef telling you, or a kitchen porter, you can learn from everyone. Be patient too, you do not leave college and instantly walk into a kitchen as a sous chef on good money. It’s a bloody hard job but if your passionate and dedicated it all pays off eventually !

Favourite thing to cook? Favourite thing to eat if someone else cooks and who would you want to cook it?

My favourite thing to cook is probably a really nice fresh piece of fish. Nothing better than crispy skin and flaky juicy flesh. My favourite thing to eat is either;- my fiancée  Shelley’s spaghetti bolognaise or my mum’s roast dinner. It’s heard everywhere around the world but you can not beat your mums cooking

Thanks Dan!

Posted By Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment

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Eat My Words – Gary Hunter

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

This week we have the pleasure of being joined by Gary Hunter – The Head of Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Food and Beverage service at London’s Westminster Kingsway College. Gary also writes professionally and is Chocolate Ambassador for the United Kingdom. Here’s what he had to share..

You can follow Gary on Twitter

Check out London’s Westminster Colleges websites here and the link above.

What do you consider your biggest achievement so far? Any plans for the future?

My biggest professional achievement so far is the building of the Westminster Kingsway College Culinary and Hospitality School to being a leading education and training centre for the hospitality industry. The size and diversity of the team has doubled since I have been Head of Department and the specialism that each teacher brings to this team is truly inspiring, current and relevant. Seeing our students graduate each year, with the skills and experience they have attained at the college, and going on to become great chefs and ambassadors for hospitality is a great achievement.We have lots of future plans at the college, such as the new refurbishment project which will transform the Vincent Square site in approximately three years. This means that we have to have a team capable of delivering up to date skills for hospitality to match our location and environment. There are so many strategies associated with this to develop Westminster Kingsway College’s true potential and live up to our heritage. It’s an exciting time to be here!

What’s the most important tip or bit of advice to give someone wanting to enrol at Westminster and embark on a life in the food & beverage industry?

To do their very best at school, even though they may not be particularly academic or enjoy the school environment. But also to research the industry and the college so that they are fully aware of the standards we operate to and expect from our students. They are second to none! Finally, go online as quickly as possible to download and complete the application form, even if you are not too sure which course you want to apply for, because we can explore this at interview so that you can select your best option.

Favourite local restaurant and meal?

I guess London is local to me so I’ll go for The Wolseley for a brasserie style that has service with a smile and a ‘can do’ attitude. The food is very good too and I can start with breakfast, have elevenses, then lunch, afternoon tea and a nice supper without leaving the table!

Last enjoyable restaurant experience – where, what and meal?

Taking my wife and two daughters to Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons for lunch earlier in the year. The setting, service and food is unbeatable and I wanted my daughters to really experience this first hand. I also love taking my wife there for a weekend, just as a little treat for the both us once a year or so. All the stresses of life seem to melt away as soon as I drive into the grounds!

Favourite thing to cook and who would you like to cook for? Favourite things to eat if someone else cooks and who would you have cook?

I love to cook with good local ingredients such as a Label Anglaise Chicken (derived from the old Cornish Red) from Temple Farm in Essex, Salt Marsh Lamb from Woodbridge or Walton-on the Naze, North Norfolk Samphire and Cromer Crabs and Lobsters, plus a really good single origin chocolate. I would love to cook for Paolo Di Canio, Sir Geoff Hurst, Sir Trevor Brooking and Julian Dicks! I love my wife’s cooking – she really is a great cook – so it would have to be her cooking everything I’ve just mentioned and of course a great chocolate pudding or dessert.

Most admired chefs growing up, most respected now and who to look out for in the future?

Growing up it would have to be the Roux Brothers, because they opened the world of cuisine and possibilities to me. Marco is another great influence and is still so very underrated even today.
For the immediate future; look out for Ollie Dabbous, who opened Dabbous in Fitzrovia and his head chef Ross Gibbens, also for Mark Froydenlund – head chef at Restaurant Marcus Wareing and alumni of the college.
For the medium term future; Ben Murphy an ex- Professional Chef Diploma student of Westminster Kingsway College – he will go very far!

Where would you like to go locally to eat in the future that you haven’t tried yet? What food, if any, would you really like to try but haven’t got around to yet?

There are many restaurants opening around London that I need to try but Viajante is high on my list. Last year I travelled to Japan, Shanghai and South Korea and lovely the food out there. But I know that I only skimmed the surface of what these countries have to offer and want to try more – especially in Japan.

What’s your favourite chocolate?

There are many types of chocolate which I adore, from different producers too – but Madagascan chocolate produced from the cacao plantations in the Sambirano region and within the Ambanja district.
The chocolate from Original Beans who also look at conservation as well as farming is beautiful and some of the best I have eaten.

What’s inspires you to keep writing books? Anything in the pipeline?

I love writing and when people tell me that they were informed or inspired by a book that I have written, all the pain and heartache of that process is so very worthwhile. We have the second edition of the Professional Chef Level 3 being published in March and we are very excited about that because it really covers a wide ranging set of topics that no other educational culinary book at the level covers. There is an on-line book that accompanies it too, which is interactive and balances out the book really positively. I have other books that publishers have asked me to write, so I guess I’m going to be a very busy chef over the next couple of years!

Great Thanks Gary!

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Eat My Words – Andrew Kojima

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

You might remember Andrew Kojima from this last season’s MasterChef, and thankfully he’s agreed to speak to us for this week’s segment of Eat My Words.  We were all engrossed in watching his exciting inventions all season and now we can’t wait to hear what’s next for him!  Follow Andrew on twitter @masterkoj and on his blog Koj Cooks where he’s got recipes and info on his demos and cooking classes.

What inspired you to sign up for Masterchef?

I’d always loved MasterChef when it was on in the 1990s with Loyd Grossman. In recent years, I watched with interest as the contestants did ever more challenging tasks, for ever more exacting chefs, in ever more exotic locations – that’s what made me want to apply.

What was your proudest moment on MasterChef?

I started to get quite emotional as I made it through the later rounds – my father was ill and I was very worried that he might never see what I had achieved on the show. I’m pleased he did get to see it and he was very proud of me.

Who was your favourite guest judge?

The chef I most wanted to meet was Michel Roux Junior. I have always held the Roux family in high esteem not only for what they have achieved for themselves and for cooking in Britain, but also because they are such gentlemen. It was a very special moment when he walked through the doors and I realised I’d made it far enough to meet him. To cap it all, he loved both dishes that I cooked that day.

How has the show affected your life the most? What is the best thing to have come out of it?

I’ve turned something that I love – food and cooking – into my career. The best thing about that? I no longer feel guilty for thinking about food during the day – I can now say it’s my job.

You’ve worked with some heavyweights since leaving the show, which work placement was the most challenging and why?

The Ledbury was disappointing for me. It’s an incredibly high energy and inspiring place to work full time, but it didn’t work as a work placement for me because I didn’t have enough experience to make the most of it. I think I’ll go back, first as a diner then perhaps for another turn in the kitchen.

What’s the big plan for you next?

I’m off to Holland to work at Sergio Herman’s Oud Sluis – the three Michelin star restaurant in a small town in south west Holland. After that, I plan to continue building experience at top restaurants, while also building a career as a private chef, cookery teacher and food writer.

What’s the last restaurant that you ate at, and what did you think?

It’s been a busy year in both professional and family life, so I haven’t been out for dinner much, but a few months ago my wife and I went to L’Enclume and had one of the best meals of our life. It was a great relief that it surpassed all expectation because we’d been trying to go for several years. Now we’ve been, we’re both agreed that we’d make a special trip in future. Apart from “special meals”, I quite often have lunch in Soho.

What’s your favourite local restaurant?

Medlar on Kings Road. The food is always interesting, well cooked, beautifully presented and delicious. The Head Chef Joe Mercer Nairne has been very supportive and great source of advice and inspiration. His business partner David O’Connor runs the front of house impeccably.

Which chefs do you admire most?

Anyone called Roux. Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay – I just wish I could have worked with them to witness their passion, drive and talent. David Everitt-Mathias, because he has never missed a service in twenty five years.

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Eat My Words – Yugnich Eats

Friday, September 28th, 2012

We ran across Yugnich on twitter, badmouthing local chefs, restaurants and famous food writers. To be honest we didn’t know what to make of his strange grammar and weird ideas, after this interview we still don’t! We do know that Yugnich may or may not be best mates with Rachel Khoo, Jay Reiner and Giles Coren, he may or may not work in a pet shop, he loves to draw and really loves his muscles….

He does write about food though (sort of) http://yugnicheats.wordpress.com and you can find him tweeting in all your favourite foodies ears @YugnichGritkin

Thanks for the interview… we think… =]

What got you into food writing?
i was hangin with my frend Twiz an we were playin sum Skyrim an he asked me if i Had any food for him to eeat becos he was hungry an I sed ok Twiz. So i went an I mad him a sanwich of sum bred an a cucumber an three bits of a bit of cheese an sum lil bits of spagetti that i din eeat from the night befor and I sed “HERE WE GO TWIZ.” and he ate it and then he said “WOW YUGNICH THAT IS THE BEST SANDWICH I EVER EAT.” an I said thanks an stuff. Then he said yuo shuld start a blog becos thers so many people who don know alot abuot food but yuo do know alot abuot food so yuo shuld tell people abuot it. I wasn sure cos I spen alot of time doing cool things like thinkin of diffrent tattoo designs an wat Jasun Stathum’s favurit type of horse is and also practicing free runnin and brakedancin, but I did it anyway an then i got onto Twitster and a millionty peopl lik J.Rainer an evry1 said “WOW YUGNICH YUO ARE GUD AT THINGS LIKE FOOD NEVER STOP PLEASE.”

How do you choose a restaurant to review?
i look alot on Twitster an use my eyes an my EEARS an speeak to my frends an stuff. los of peopl always ask me to gone to placs cos they reeeeeeeeeeealy want to know wat think abuot them.

How many restaurants do you eat out in per month?
i gone to a lundun restrant prolly abuot 2 or 3 or 4 times a month but i go to placs lik ROYAL CHIKEN shop mor cos its clos to my huose an my frend Brox works ther an sumtimes he lets me eat a meal with a bit of bred an a lil bit of eggs an sum good tasty chiken an stuff.

Who is your current favourite chef?
My favurit chef is Rachel Coo cos we are semi-best-frends an she does thins with food that othr peopl like tha silly fella Renny from Norma doesn do lik make spageti with sum nice fish bits, or mayb sum lil bits of chickn bits in a egg of sumthin. She is also gud cos she likes gud things like blu rays an all the best songs by tha INSANe clown posse an lipstik made with sum pigs blood. I also lik the ribcage guy cos he make gud time tasty ribs an soon we are gonna get togethr an make a event wen he makes sum chiken ribs an sells them an they called “YUGNICHS BLOODY GOOD CHIKEN RIBS YUM.”

What is your current favourite restaurant concept?
One that i inveted is my favurit. evryone sits on cool bean bags an watchs the matrix for a lil whil then we mayb put on sum dubstep an send out all the food on skatebords an the food is a mix of evryones fav bits like crisps an big jucy meeat piles an i think evryone gets to drink sum sprite and stuff. then when the food is gud evryone gets to use the skatboards to do ther favurit tricks an stuff. the hole time i will prolly be in the corner doin thins like press ups and free runnin.

Most underated Local Restaurant? (and maybe most overated!)
ther is a very nic plac near to my home and it is “THE HARVESTER” an it not as good as MEEATLIQUOR or places lik Ribcage guys Ribs but yuo can get los of food an los of salad and thers sumtimes free running areas in the back so its good for me to go cos i can practic an eat heealth an lots of chics normally see me.

How has bloggin in general changed your outlook on food/restauarants?
I think it maks me a lot mor profesional cos now i am 1 bigtime food guy alot of peopl want me to tel them wat fud they shud eeat so i cant go to places an shuot at peopl for not likin hoobastank or mudvayne or stuf lik i used to. it also a lot bettr cos now los of peopl writ abuot wat they eat an stuf wich is very intresting cos sumtim i look at a fella in the street an think “i wuner wat that fella ate for his lunch an wethr he thuoght it was gud”. but then i normly watch him more an mayb he trips on a dog or a rat or summin an i think “that fella prolly just ate a bit of rice an mayb a glass of milk an then cried wen he was watchin sumin lame” an i don care anymor.

What’s the biggest mistake a restaurant can make in your opinion?
if yuo walk in to a restraunt an three fellas come up to yuo an punch yuo in yuor middle a hundred times then steeal all yuor money then hit yuor dog to deth then steeal yuor car an driv it into a bin then thas pretty horribl. it wuldn be too bad for me cos i wuld prolly just ruondhouse them fellas and say “ill have a burger thanks!” but it wuld be sucky for other peeopl an stuff.

and……

What has been your all-time favourite restaurant experience to date?
the time that the restrant DABOOZ calld me an sed “yugnich we want yuo to com to our restraunt we cus we had all the big time food guys ecept for one. yuo” so i said okay ill com an then Rachel Coo calld me an said “yugnich i wan to go to DABOOZ but i cant get a table an stuff can u help me” so I said okay an me an rachel coo wen to DABOOZ an ate the smoky cow pile an sum other bits an then everyon in the restrant said “gosh im bored” so i quickly went an did som freerunnin an then my two bes frends J.Rainer an Griles Conran cam in an sed “gud job yugnich”. it was quite good.

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Chef Hermes – Eat My Words

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Chef Hermes writes a blog from within the catering industry, after spending over 20 years cooking with the inspirational, the talented and the egomaniacs of the stoves. He now spends more time writing and sharing from the inside of the catering industry. You can find Chef Hermes at http://chefhermes.com/ on facebook here or on twitter @ChefHermes. We caught up this week for a quick chat about writing and eating! Enjoy.

You run the blog chefhermes.com. How has blogging/writing changed yo our view on the industry?

Writing the blog has broought me into contact with journalists & PR companies, which has been a bit of an eye opening experience. Some of the PRs I’ve met have grabbed the ‘new media’ with both hands & have been more than welcoming and helpful. Others not so, which is slightly disappointing & sometimes annoying. PRs are playing a larger part in promoting restaurants & chefs than ever before. Freebies & press junkets are contributing to the growing demand for popularity lists, reviews and general food related writing. Most of the higher rated Michelin chefs (with the possible exception of Andrew Fairlie) are or have engaged with the services of a PR company. I’d just like to point out that when I have a story which will possibly end up on the blog, I also make a point of trying to get in touch with the related PR or chef for their response & point of view.

Which is the last restaurant you visited and what were your thoughts?

Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon. I’ve been three times in the past 18 months and the food is cleaner, sharper & more focused. It’s probably closer to the elusive third star now than it’s ever been. It appeared on chefhermes.com

Which is your favourite local restaurant?

Living & working in South Devon I’m virtually inundated with lots of hiddden gems,  from my local pub to the recently Michelin starred Driftwood in Cornwall which holds great personal  memories.

What is the most difficult part of your job?

Trying to restrain myself. I’m on the social networks quite a lot and invariably there are people who’ll disagree with me, and that’s fine. But occasionally there are people who feel the need to provoke and causing a heated discussion. Fortunately having already had a scrape with the legal system concerning the blog, it tends to stop me going a touch too far.

What annoys you in the hospitality industry at the moment?

How badly staff are generally treated relative to other industries. For example, lieu days are common place and are the biggest fallacy that employees endure. Poor wages, hours & the lack of training (as there is generally a cost attached to it) are all levelled at catering, & rightly so. Not everybody is so short sighted and it’s certainly better than it was when I first started over twenty years ago.

Who is your favourite food writer?

There are two writers which I admire. The newly appointed Guardian restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin & investigative food journalist Joanna Blythman. Both have a natural talent to draw you into their writing.

What’s harder, writing or cheffing?

Doing both at the same time is a double edged sword, it helps with inspiration & material, but restricts time spent actually writing & publishing. I’d say on the whole cheffing is harder, but both require some similar disciplines: focus; originality; research & technical ability. Although people say ‘build it & they will come’ which is all very well, but neither a blog or a restaurant will grow unless they meet & exceed their users/guests expectations and needs.

Thanks so much Chef

Posted by Mise En Place International Hospitality Recruitment

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Ben Spalding – Eat My Words

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

This week we catch up with a very talented and extremely hard working young chef, Ben Spalding (@Benspalding1). Ben has put in the hard yards at some of the best kitchens in the world, working under such household names as, Rhodes, Ramsay, Rogan, Keller to name a few! His accumulated experience is evident in the his unique food style and his recent stint as head chef of the London outpost of L’enclume (Roganic) proved. He has now taken a step in a different direction with Stripped Back @ The Broadway Market.. We are very excited to follow Ben’s career here at Mise and hope you enjoy the interview!

So firstly your latest venture is Stripped Back @ The Broadway Market, you are challenging the way people look at affordable street food. What made you decide to go in this direction?

It was discussed with my friend and someone who has been very supportive to my career Nuno Mendes. I need to make a special mention on what a great guy and visionary he is. I rate him very highly. We looked at doing something else together down Dalston way then we spoke about this. We both thought there was a huge potential for it. So I launched it. We are in our eighth week now and it has been a huge success growing every week. We are doing street feast in Dalston on Friday nights and Saturday’s at Broadway Market. I plan to carry it on for good even when John Salt opens. The concept is very strong.

Do you enjoy being right there in front of the customer and interacting with them as you plate up?

Yes very much. It is bloody hard work! All the washing up, cooking, serving, talking, relaying tables. Just 3 of us do that all for some 200-250 servings on a busy day. But very satisfying.

You have worked in amazing kitchens under some of the worlds great chefs (Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsay, Simon Rogan, Thomas Keller.. to name a few) does the pressure of the Michelin guide effect the the dynamic of the kitchen?

Maybe in some places. It wouldn’t for me.

It is a matter of life and death for me personally in my brain when sending food that has my name above it. I will not insult my training, my guests or the ingredients by sending food out that is not as good as it could be. I am not letting my life be ruled by a guidebook and the majority of the time an inspector who has a tenth of my knowledge & skill. But I would be a fool to say it doesn’t matter to worry about them because they are a massive thing to get recognised by and can do the business wonders.


The michelin guide doesn’t always get it right. But it is a benchmark. You walk into a 2 rosette kitchen and then a 2* kitchen the difference is huge. The passion, desire, commitment, skill, speed & work ethic is 10 times better.

Which is the last restaurant you visited and what were your thoughts?

The last restaurant I ate in was 28-50 marylebone. Where one of my beat mates Paul Walsh runs the kitchen. He is an unsung hero of the 28-50′s whose cooking is technically perfect. He was my sous chef at Royal Hospital Road and been a close friend. He gave me a very memorable meal recently with very humble food.

Which is your favourite local restaurant?
Haha I live in folkestone. Food isn’t a strong point of the community. Raj bari in Hythe does blinding curry’s.

What annoys you in the hospitality industry at the moment?

Two things;
1. Lazy young cooks & waiters- more so cooks who can namedrop until blue in the face & want the names on their cv’s from working at 1-3* restaurants but buckle under the pressures and last weeks sometimes just days. You will never get anywhere or most importantly the necessary discipline or training needed to cook properly unless you take some crap & work in these not always desirable environments.

2. This craze of opening hipster places that serve pretty mediocre food. What has happened to cooking your heart out? It appears to me it is more important to be somewhere cool rather than somewhere where the cooking is excellent and good value for money.

What personal attributes do you think make a good chef?

For a good chef  too many to list: respect, humilty, integrity, passion, obsession, honesty, discipline, creativity, business sense, people & management skills, competence, drive, grit, relentless determination.
For a great chef double the list.

If you had to give one piece of advice to an up and coming chef, what would it be?

I consider myself an up and coming chef, so let’s say an chef starting out-
Everything in my answers for the last two questions covers it i think

What should a chef working for you, never do?

Lie, and immediately dismissed.
Impossible to work with that kind of person.

Which Chef (Chefs) do you most admire?

So many. But two that stick out Brett Graham I admire immensely, having had the chance to work with him as his development chef for a temporary time recently. His respect, humilty & integrity to his restaurant & staff is astounding. Inspirational. And Grant Achatz for what he had to go through and what he has achieved shows superhuman character. Just incredible.

People always ask chefs what their last meal on earth would be… Instead, if you had to cook one last meal (the last dish ever for your customers!) what would it be and why?

Angus beef ragu with ras el hanout, minted sour cream, blowtorched lettuce & wraps.

A dish I recently cooked at stripped back, my market stall. Fajitas are my favourite thing to eat. Filling, quick and delicious.

Thanks so much Ben.

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Eat MY Words- Dave Ahern from Burger Breakout

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Dave Ahern is a food writer turned chef he is also better known as @CorkGourmetGuy. He writes the blog http://gourmetguy.wordpress.com/ and is about to launch a pop up restaurant at @06StChadsPlace on the 22nd of July. He has teamed up with the guys from The Cornish Grill to use Cornwall’s best produce to do a burger pop-up with a bit of a difference. We caught up with him for a really interesting chat about what his likes and being a chef in London.

Which is the last restaurant you visited and what were your thoughts?

The last place I ate out was at the Patty and Bun burger pop up at The
Endurance in Soho. I have to say honestly it was the best burger that I’ve ever had in London, there is a lot of these American style burger pop-ups & restaurants around
London now but none I’ve had are on the same level as Patty and Bun.

Which is your favourite local restaurant?

My favourite local restaurant is a little family run Italian place near East
Putney tube station called Vera Italia. I discovered it when I lived there
last year, my girlfriend and I were trying to decided where to go to eat
while stood pretty much outside it and decided that we may as well give it a
try. It became a place we visitied at least once a week and often more. The
whole family worked there and it came to the stage where we could tell who
was in the kitchen that night by the subtle differences in your dish.
Despite no longer living in the area we still try and go back there to eat
every month or so, it’s everything a local Italian should be, friendly,
welcoming, with simple dishes that are wonderfully fresh and cooked with
love.

What is the most difficult part of your job?

Kitchens are unusual working enviroments, stress filled, usually cramped,
hot and tough places to work. Getting the very best from your brigade is
hugely important and it’s the most difficult part of being a head chef. You
have to make your brigade want to work for you, many chefs think that
shouting and screaming is the way to run a brigade but all you will end up
is a brigade that works just hard enough to not get shouted at. You also
can’t push your brigade flat out all day, you need to manage them so that
prep gets done but they can relax and enjoy some banter when not on service.
You also need to use this time to work one on one with your junior chefs and
develop their skills by showing them new things, this keeps them interested
and motivated to beome better chefs. You need to be able to be one of the
gang when the kitchen is relaxed but on service your brigade have to respect
that what you say goes. It’s that along with instilling a sense of pride in
what you are doing as a brigade that are the toughest part of the job but
ultimately the most rewarding if you get it right.

What annoys you in the hospitality industry at the moment?

The undervaluing of the art of cheffing. The explosion of the chain
restaurant has led to a culture where the people running franchise kitchens
are little more than cooks following company step by step recipes. This has
lead to non chain restaurants expecting head chefs to work for the same
money as chain “head chefs but demanding they create menus, look after
budgets, financials, HR, staff training and all the other duties involved in
being a head chef.

What personal attributes do you think make a good chef?

A calm head, without that you’re never going to achieve anything. The line
in the poem should read “If you can keep your head when all about you are
losing their’s and blaming it on you….then you’ll be a chef my son”

If you had to give one piece of advice to an up and coming chef, what would
it be?

Prepare to make sacrifices. As someone who started work as a commis chef 1
month before my 35th birthday I think more than most I know what it takes
and more to the point what you have to sacrifice to make it as a chef. One
thing I always tell young chefs is study the great chefs, look at their
menus and ask yourself why they are cooking what they are cooking.

What should a chef working for you, never do?

Show a lack of respect to me or anyone in the brigade, you do that with me
then I will run you into the ground.

Which Chef (Chefs) do you most admire?

Gordon Ramsay (he’s the reason I became a chef)
Nathan Outlaw
Richard Corrigan
Ben Spalding (having worked along side him when he came to my restaurant to
cook for the first time since leaving Roganic I was simply blown away by
watching how the guys mind worked, an exceptional chef)

People always ask chefs what their last meal on earth would be… Instead,
if you had to cook one last meal (the last dish ever!) what would it be and
why?

Loin of venison, thyme fondant, beetroot puree, pickled wild mushrooms,
blackpudding and walnut crumble and a damson and chocolate sauce, it’s
simply me on a plate.

Posted by Mise En Place International Hospitality Recruitment

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Eat My Words – The Perfect Trough

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

This week we chat to self a confessed glutton from the blog – The Perfect Trough. TPT likes pigging out (hence the name of the blog!) and does so in great style. Combining yummy shots of the food and witty writing TPT reviews some of the lesser known places about town, which we think is important.. There are only so many reviews of the starred joints you can read and at the end of the day we don’t eat in them very often, so it’s great to get the low down on what’s happening locally. You can follow The Perfect Trough on Twitter @perfectrough

What got you into food writing?

It was completely accidental actually. I had a slightly more keen than normal interest in restaurants, started following some bloggers as a reader and then eventually thought “I can do that…”

How do you choose a restaurant to review?

I do follow people on Twitter in the industry for new openings, but I also do favourites and places local to me. Sometimes I’m walking past somewhere and like the look of it and go in – often more cafes or coffee joints than big dinners.

And other bloggers’ reviews play a big part too; it’s an interactive community rather than a one-way proclamation.

Who is your current favourite chef?

Sam Harris of Zucca. A great chef; intelligent, modern, original and a thoroughly good guy.

Most underrated Local Restaurant? (and maybe most overrated!)

Underrated: Albertine on Wood Lane, W12. Great unfussy French comfort food, fantastic wine and a proper cheese board.

Overrated: Duck Soup.

How has blogging in general changed your outlook on food/restaurants?

It’s made me a little more clinical. I still enjoy the food and drink as much, but am more alert and distracted about goings on. I don’t revisit as many places as I’d like, as I’m more keen to go somewhere I’ve not reviewed.

What’s the biggest mistake a restaurant can make in your opinion?

Pretentious concepts put my teeth on edge. Unless it’s true fine dining and aimed at the super wealthy, please don’t take it all so seriously. It’s supposed to be about enjoyment and sharing great food and drink.

What do you think the London food scene is missing?

More late night dining which is half decent. It’s a City of Westminster issue. How much better would Soho be if Polpo, Polpetto, Copita, Pitt Cue, Dean St Townhouse, Yalla Yalla, Mele e Pere and others were open until 1am or later.

Who’s your favourite food writer/critic?

I admire Fay Maschler for being so long-standing and venerable, and yet so adaptable and open minded to modern dining trends. I bet she really hates no-bookings though. Marina O’Loughlin is wickedly funny and absolutely on point.

and……

What has been your all-time favourite restaurant experience to date?

The first time I went to Hawksmoor Seven Dials I was actually blown away. The venue is beautiful, the drinks were amazing, but the meticulous attention to detail to every element of the meal was most memorable.

So many steak places will provide a big-deal steak but not bother too much with the chips or sauces. Let alone create the terrible dilemma of duck fat versus triple fried?! (ed. How about triple fired in Duck Fat??? mmmmmm)

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Mien Tay Battersea Review

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Mien Tay is packed pretty much every night of the week. That’s saying something for a restaurant that only accepts cash, has rushed, bordering on rude service, no PR or meal deals and that sits on a high street notorious for its terrible eateries. So why the crowds? The Food!

Mien Tay Battersea is the offshoot of the equally successful Vietnamese restaurant of the same name in Shoreditch. They serve down to earth, traditional South West Vietnamese food and they do it well. We have eaten there on several occasions now and every time the food has been delicious. The first time I was slightly late for a 7:30 booking and the manager was not happy at all, threatening to kick my Fiancé out if I didn’t show soon. You would think after such an abrupt beginning we would harbour ill will, but once the Fried Crispy Sea Bream with Lemongrass & Chilli arrived all was forgotten. The bream comes whole, covered in spring onions, coriander, lemongrass and chilli and every mouthful is exciting, even the bones are worth chewing on.

The menu at Mien Tay is long, with a great selection of starters, Pho and Bun (noodle soups), seafood, pork, chicken, beef, duck, goat and even frogs and eel. The most talked about starter here is the quail. We have had it on every occasion and its worth going back for alone. £6 gets you get a whole spatchcocked bird chargrilled with honey, garlic and spices. The flavour of the garlic and spices permeates the whole bird and you find yourself cleaning the bones and eyeing off any left on your dining companions plate! I highly recommend getting one all to yourself, far too good to share. It’s served (as are most dishes here) with a dressing of sliced chillies, coriander and some pickled vegetables which work well with the flavour of the bird.

On our most recent trip we decided to try a selection of starters and ordered the quail, Mien Tay Spicy Soft Shell Crab, Prawn Fresh Roll and the Salt and Pepper Squid. The rolls were  expertly made with a vibrant filling of fresh coriander thin noodles and juicy prawns. They were served with a delicious (on its own) satay sauce but we would have preferred a fresher, more vibrant accompaniment, maybe with some spice.

Soft shell crab is one of my Fiancé’s favourites and Mien Tay do a very good version, coated in a heavy, spicy batter you get some really large crabs for the price. The standout (after the quail) for me though is the squid. Every Asian restaurant in London does a Salt and Pepper squid and 90% of the time it is tough and chewy with not enough salt or pepper. Mien Tay’s batter is light and grease free with a huge kick of seasoning. It also comes dressed with punchy slices of chilli and a small pile of mixed salt and pepper which adds even more kick to the flavour.

Even after several visits we have yet to break the surface of the extensive menu. The Pho is supposed to be amazing and at £6 a bowl, great value. AA Gill from the Sunday Times called it ‘possibly the best in the UK’ which is high praise indeed. Dinner for two here with a few beers or a bottle of wine (the wine list is very well priced and has been matched to the dishes) usually comes in at under £40, which is incredible. The whole fried Bream for £9 (up from less than £8 a year ago) could sell for double and would still be well worth it, actually this applies to most of the menu.

We will be back very soon even if it’s just for the quail!

Mien Tay is located at 180 Lavender Hill Battersea, up until very recently they had BYO although I’m not sure if that still applies with the new wine men in place now. They also only take cash so come equipped to save the embarrassment of having to run down the street to the ATM (which I have done 3 times now!)

Reviewed by Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment

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