How did you come to work with Tom Kerridge?
I was in Vancouver, working in a restaurant out there and I came back to the UK in about 2010 to work as Group Executive Chef for the Galvin brothers. My wife is from Marlow so that’s where we lived when we came back, and I used to commute into London every day. I knew Tom from the area, and we did a few events together, including the first-ever Pub in the Park, and we got on really well. One day, Tom said he was looking for a Group Executive Chef and it seemed like a great idea!
What are your day-to-day duties?
I oversee the running of all the restaurants so anything food-related that has got Tom’s name on it comes under me. There’s quite a big team of us throughout the business so all the chefs answer to me whether it’s food costs to the general daily running of the kitchens.
What’s been the highlight of your career?
Vancouver was pretty amazing, that was a proud period of my career. I was lucky to be out there during the Winter Olympics and had the opportunity to cook on a mountain for the Olympic team. I was also able to write a book out there that got published called West: The Cookbook. I’ve been fortunate enough to work all over the world – France, Italy, America, Canada – and I think it’s really important for a chef to do that not just because you learn about different types of foods, but different types of people, different ways of managing situations, different customers, different client tastes. I think it helps you broaden your horizons a little bit and gives you a wider understanding of food.
Having experienced all those different cuisines, you’re now specialising in traditional British food with the opening of Kerridge’s Fish & Chips at Harrods. How does it compare serving fish and chips day in, day out?
To be fair, we have fish and chips on the menu in every restaurant: in The Hand and Flowers, The Coach, Kerridge’s Bar & Grill. We’ve always served fish and chips and it’s something that Tom feels quite passionate about. We always try to make the best fish and chips you can have; we source incredibly good fish, we work directly with potato growers to get the perfect potatoes etc. so when we spoke to the guys at Harrods and we saw the space there, almost instantly Tom said, “fish and chips, right?” And I agreed, it was just perfect. So, we drew up on the back of a bit of paper there and then what we wanted in terms of it being authentic, because we wanted it to be the real thing. Tom said from the start that he didn’t want to be cooking fish and chips out of a kitchen, he wanted to do it properly with the proper equipment, and that’s when we came to KFE.
How did you find working with KFE?
KFE were brilliant. The thing is with Harrods is that the name is very famous and it’s got a lot of history so when it comes to the fabric of the building, everything is so protected. You can’t touch a tile because of the huge history it has. So, the logistics that KFE faced to get that frying range in situ was quite tough. And I’ve got to say, there wasn’t a hurdle that they didn’t find a way to overcome very quickly. From day one, they had a very positive approach and I think it would have been quite easy for everyone to say, you know what, this is going to be a nightmare. But it was KFE that said, no, we’ll make it work, we’ll find a way. I know it was a stressful three days putting the range in but they did a brilliant job and it looks like it belongs there. It looks like it’s always been there. It’s fantastic.