& COOKING ARTICLE
de Cuisine of London's Michelin Star Restaurant, Foliage
. . .
is becoming increasingly rare to find a hotel company
that is up for the heady task of offering guests great
rooms and an outstanding food and beverage program.
This situation is especially true of London, where a
great number of hotel companies have relinquished the
challenge of running their own F & B operations,
or at the very least have handed over the establishment's
fine dining restaurant to a well branded chef in exchange
for a good night's sleep, a guaranteed rent check and
percentage of the profits.
concept carries no weight at London's Mandarin Oriental
Hotel. The Mandarin is an operation that takes pride
in offering its guest a complete experience, created
by the hotel's team and not someone else's.
old fashioned view of hospitality has reaped its rewards.
The hotel's restaurant Foliage has received nothing
but rave reviews since it opened its doors, and in January
2002 the restaurant earned its first Michelin star.
after the restaurant was awarded its star, Hywel Jones,
Foliage's Chef de Cuisine moved on to become the chef
/ partner of Islington based restaurant Lola's. I cannot
think of a much more daunting task than taking over
a kitchen so soon after it has won such a prestigious
award. But this task did not intimidate this month's
featured chef, 27-year-old Chris Staines. Chris assumed
control of Foliage's kitchen in March 2002.
us a little bit about your background
have been involved with kitchen work since I was at
school. The first kitchen job I had was in Wales,
then I moved on to Bath where I worked for two years.
Then I decided I wanted to move down to London to
work in a three Michelin star restaurant. I worked
with Nico Ladenis for two years and then went on to
Marco Pierre White's restaurant. During my time at
Marco's he gave back his three stars, as he wanted
to step out of working in a kitchen every day. In
the proceeding year we reclaimed one star and then
the next year we got our second. I held the position
of head chef and Robert Reid was the executive chef.
Reid is an excellent chef, I found him to be a very
positive influence on my cooking- he helped me shape
my food style . . .
food that I cook is French based and influenced by
classical dishes, with a modern style. I aim to keep
the flavours simple and allow the natural flavours
shine through and compliment not conflict with the
other components of the dish.
conscious are you about using British produce and responsibly
farmed and harvested meat and fish?
large percentage of what we use is organic and the
majority of our produce is grown in Britain. Obviously
there are certain commodities - foie gras and truffles
are good examples, which have to be brought in. I
do pay attention to sustainable issues cod is an example
of a fish that we do not serve due to its dwindling
supply. I feel that it is important to be responsible
and stay away from it and other items like it.
did it feel to come and take over the established kitchen
of Foliage and did it make you nervous that it had recently
received its first Michelin star?
it was intimidating for a few reasons; Hywel Jones
(Chris's predecessor) is a fantastic chef so I had
some big shoes to fill. The fact that the restaurant
had just received its star meant that I had to hit
the ground running. Additionally I have always worked
in restaurants not hotels; hotels are not as straightforward
to deal with. The intimidation soon subsided. Hywel
and I worked together for ten weeks before he left
to run his own restaurant, this made for a seamless
transition. David Nicholls gave me the instruction
to just run the kitchen and focus on the food. He
takes care of the other issues that are part of hotel
much involvement does Nicholls have on Foliage?
has a healthy involvement in the restaurant but does
not interfere. Nicholls trust his people and lets
them do their jobs has a very positive effect on the
restaurant and as the Food and Beverage Director he
is focused on ensuring we deliver the whole package
- front and back.
you are firmly in place, do you plan on changing the
food style of the restaurant?
my focus will be on delivering the best food to our
guests. Hywel and I have a scarily similar background
and therefore we have a very similar food style, I
will be building on what is already in place.
about the future would you like to travel or is London
home for you?
love London and this is where I want to stay. In the
past I had considered working in France, but I want
to be part of the London food scene.
do you feel are the culinary names to watch out for
Wearing is already part of the picture but will certainly
become a bigger player; Robert Reid has got what it
takes and Hywel Jones is nothing short of genius,
we will be hearing a lot from him in time to come
. . .
Salad of Marinated and Smoked Salmon
with Saffron Potatoes and Horseradish Dressing
written by Jeremy Emmerson and
Hub-UK : firstname.lastname@example.org