You’ve been working as a chef for 19 years. When did you first realise you wanted to be a chef?
I’ve been around different food from a young age, with one sister living in Denmark and the other living in Singapore. Because of that I always wanted to go travelling, to experience new cuisines and cultures. I knew that pursuing cooking would enable me to travel and learn more about the world’s favourite foods as I did it, so I decided very early in life that I wanted to be a chef. And I’ve never looked back!
What are your fondest food memories from when you were a child?
A lot of travelling means a lot of fond food memories. I grew up in New Zealand, but when I was 8 I travelled overseas with my parents for 4 months, and it was then that I began to try some really interesting foods. In Denmark we ate a lot of Scandinavian food, a firm favourite would have to be Marzipan. I love Marzipan. It’s just so good! I also must say that Danish pastries in Denmark are quite different from over here, I think it’s the quality of the butter in Denmark which gives them a totally unique flavour and texture – quite incredible!
I understand you have catered for thousands of people all over the globe, what would you say has been your favourite location or venue?
Since coming to London I’ve been lucky enough to get involved in a huge range of different events, including some very exclusive VIP occasions! During my time at The London Kitchen I’ve been fortunate enough to experience some of the capital’s finest event spaces – I really love the Foundling Museum and the Serpentine Gallery, they’re totally mesmerising backdrops for special events and the perfect place to showcase our food!
What has been the most interesting dinner you’ve catered for?
That prize must go to the legendary Paul McCartney. In 2012 I was asked to cater for his opening night, on behalf of the Teenage Cancer Trust. It’s obviously such a great cause, and one I was happy to get involved with.
As part of the event we also catered for the after party, which was really interesting as the production team had been asked to turn one room into something which appeared to be much smaller, because Paul hates big empty spaces. As soon as I got there I spotted so many famous faces, some of whom had been responsible for the music that I really love, the Rolling Stones in particular!
You’ve got so much experience in such a wide variety of cuisines, but which is your favourite one to cook?
I think the most exciting cuisine is Italian, I love the bold, honest flavours. Most Italian food is based on the idea of simple dishes which pack a punch in terms of flavour. Recently The London Kitchen catered for an Italian wedding, a great experience which saw our Lambeth kitchens turned into a pasta paradise!
I also love Asian cuisine, particularly fusion cooking. One of our new dishes for Christmas 2013 has been inspired by the region, the Chinese-style baked buns filled with traditional Christmas flavour combinations. They’re totally delicious!
What is your proudest accomplishment?
When it comes to large scale jobs, particularly ones which come with a short lead time or ones where the menu and guest numbers are constantly changing it’s always a challenge. Last minute changes can be hugely stressful in the kitchens, but at The London Kitchen we pride ourselves on our ability to adapt to any requirements, no matter how complex the event may be! It’s incredibly rewarding when you pull off huge events and receive fantastic feedback from your client. You look back on it all and say ‘wow, I did that’. It’s a great accomplishment for me and my team.
Tell us about your guilty food pleasures.
Oh it’s got to be marzipan, or anything involving marzipan! I also love really, really dark chocolate. The stronger the better. I’m talking the 100% stuff here, accept no imitations!
What is your favourite comfort food dish?
It’s got to be gnocchi, is that boring? That’s pretty boring isn’t it. Gnocchi or lasagne, lasagne is my favourite thing in the world. It’s the Italian cuisine, I can’t resist it!
Who would you say are your main influencers and inspirations?
French Chef Michel Bras produces very simple, beautiful food. He’s a big inspiration. Other influencers would have to be Neil Perry, an Australian chef who serves really great food. I’ve also got to say Marco Pierre White, I think he is simply amazing.