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JamesLowe/©JLowe

THE GAME-BRITISH & SCOTTISH CHEFS: JAMES LOWE

The Brits have been preparing for some time the after Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White cuisine. Not that there is a british style but we can certainly say that the emerging chefs are pro-locavore and that they are sourcing the best products of the island of Albion. In the very cosmopolitan London, the influences of young chefs are many, which give them a unique culinary personality.

I had the pleasure to discuss with the other two members of the Young Turks (Isaac McHale, Ben Greeno) a past few months, and to finish off and complete the trio, I invite youto discover the excellent chef James Lowe.

In talking with James Lowe, I discovered an ‘’Électrons libres’’ (probably as McHale & Greeno) with a very simple philosophy, an iconoclast with strong opinions about ‘’sa cuisine’’ and the gastronomy in general. Some thought that the chefs develop after several years only.

Lowe’s cuisine is strongly influenced by his time as Head chef of St John Bread & Wine and his work with the chef Fergus Henderson, but also with its passage in the kitchens of Fat Duck and noma. He shares with Henderson the philosophy ”Nose to Tail’ and it is completely guided by market products, the British market’s of course!

Follow this chef, its events, its future restaurant because that will be for chefs like James Lowe that we will go to a restaurant in a few years: a simple cuisine, creative food, a strong personality and a social conscience in harmony with its environment.

 

 

 

Q+A WITH JAMES LOWE (www.youngturks.co ):

1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?

JLowe- I would say that my food is a very commonsense’ in attitude, it’s heavily produce driven, quite pared back and uncomplicated. I like using British produce the majority of the time because I’m proud of being British and I honestly believe that we have not only some of the best, but also some of the most interesting produce in the world.

2-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your concept The Young Turks?

JLowe- With the Young Turks we wanted to draw attention to a new kind of British cooking, one that focused on our excellent native produce, brought vegetables to the fore and sought to be creative without being pretentious or complicated. We want to encourage collaboration and helpfulness and use it as a platform to share ideas as a way of moving forwards.

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

JLowe- Well, my parents love telling everyone that ‘all I used to eat was bacon’, so I’m going to go with that. A bacon sandwich is certainly still one of my favourite things!

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

JLowe- I would say that there are certainly suppliers that I use often, I have specific farms that I buy pork, lamb and beef from. Then there are the suppliers that take on the ‘middleman’ role, these people are massively important since they are able to find and tell
you what is currently at its best. When it comes to foods I would say that it varies with the seasons. In winter I use all sorts of game and load my menus with it, whereas in the summer I do far more vegetables dishes.

5-(Scoffier) Do you share the philosophy of Fergus Henderson ‘’Nose to tail eating’’? Do you have another chefs or anybody else that inspires you in your cuisine?

JLowe- Absolutely, Fergus is brilliant, my first meal at St John was one of the things that made me want to be a chef.  I think ‘Nose
to Tail’
fits in with a common sense approach to foods, it’s very satisfying to break down an entire animal and fit all the parts into your menu in various ways. Heston (Blumenthal) has also been a huge inspiration, both in terms of eating at The Fat Duck before I started cooking, and talking about food and restaurants whilst working with him.

6-(Scoffier) I saw that you have strong opinions on the restoration and the cuisine, and it is a difficult business! How do you see your first restaurant: small, fine dining, several important partners?

JLowe- I’d like the style of the restaurant to be fairly similar to the food: pared back, unfussy and honest. The menu will be around £30 for four or five courses at dinner and more of a list menu at lunch that would allow people to snack or eat more quickly. I’m hoping that people will be as receptive to the idea of no choice in a restaurant environment as they are at one of our events. I also want to somehow recreate the vibe and atmosphere that we have at a Young Turks gig in the restaurant – it’ll be a real challenge to maintain that energy in a permanent location.

7-(Scoffier) How do you develop (your inspiration) your recipes and construct your menu with Isaac McHale for each event?

JLowe- Each time we plan event we look carefully at what produce is available at that time and then where can we get it from. Next, we look at where we’ll be working and what limitations that places on us. The inevitable restrictions are what make the menu writing
process for a temporary event so interesting. The food has to fit the venue and be feasible to pull off to our standard. As an example our last event was on a car park rooftop in a very small kitchen equipped with a small oven and a massive grill, so we based the food loosely on a Turkish Ocakbasi, but done in our way.

8-(Scoffier) I know you were in MAD event (August 2011), what have you learned? Before, have you been influenced by René Redzepi and the New Nordic Cuisine manifesto?

JLowe- The MAD symposium was very interesting, there were talks on plant neurobiology, agricultural policy and farming sustainability.  Combined with the energy of the people in attendance and some great meals in Copenhagen I think it would be hard not to come back inspired from the event.

I didn’t eat at noma on this last visit but I think René has certainly had an influence on me. I first ate there about six years ago and was amazed at the quality and type of produce that was on display, I felt that what he was doing in Copenhagen was definitely possible in the UK, surely the same sort of ingredients would be available over here? People are just so busy in the restaurant industry that it’s hard to stop, think and look around for alternative ways of doing things. I think that was also one of the goals of MAD – to make people stop and think about what they were doing, the consequences of their choices – and I’m sure most of us who were there have done.

9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized of your cuisine?

JLowe– Recipe: Raw forerib, oyster, elderberry capers and chickweed

10-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef or for The Young Turks? Do you think about write a book, a television show, an event outside of London?

JLowe- Personally, my main goal is to get my restaurant open, get cooking for people and to be busy. I’d like to do other things in the
future but for now I just need to get a site! As for the ‘Turks, we have invites and plans to do a few things outside of the UK including Australia with the TOYS crew, Sweden at Bastard restaurant and to cook in Paris, which I really hope we get round to sorting out because it would be great to take British food to these places.

RECIPE: Raw Forerib, Oyster, Elderberry Capers and Chickweed

RawForerib/©PaJorgensen

Ingredients & Progression Recipe

-400g Well marbled, aged forerib

-Dijon mustard

-Olive oil

-Unripe elderberries

-Coarse salt

-Cider vinegar

-3 native oysters

-150g vegetable oil

-Vinegar from elderberry capers

-Salt

-Beef dripping

-200g Sourdough

-Chickweed or wild watercress

Method

Beef

1. Separate the beef from the fat and connective tissue. Chop the beef fairly roughly into 5mm dice. Chop the fat into 2-3mm dice.

Elderberry capers

1. Pick the unripe elderberries after the blossom has fallen but before the branches (and obviously the fruit) turn red. Mix with twice the weight of coarse salt, cover and refrigerate for 2 weeks. Rinse the salt off the berries. Bring to the boil enough cider vinegar to cover the berries completely. Drop the berries into the pot, bring back to the boil and pour into preserving jars and seal.

 

Oyster emulsion

1. Open the oysters. Strain the liquid from the oysters and keep. Blend the oysters to a puree then add the oil at a slow rate (as if making
mayonnaise). Continue until the emulsion is very thick. Add some vinegar from the elderberry capers and salt to season.

To serve

1. Allow the beef to come up to room temperature (over 21C), add olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper to season. Place on the plate in a very shallow layer. Pour half the reserved oyster juice over the beef. Blitz the sourdough into crumbs and fry in the beef dripping until brown and crispy. Scatter these crumbs and the elderberry capers over the beef. Pipe blobs of the oyster emulsion evenly over the beef. Add a layer of chickweed or wild watercress tops.

 

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

The Young Turks/Chef James Lowe (London)

www.youngturks.co

PRESS REVIEW

1. A New Movement…, by Bruce Palling, WStreet Journal, April 2011

2. The Young Turks at Franks Cafe (Video), August 2011

3. Catch them if you can, by Nicholas Lander, Financial Times, April 2011

Tous Droits Réservés. Copyright Scoffier ©2008-2011

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Isaac McHale

THE GAME-BRITISH & SCOTTISH CHEFS: ISAAC MCHALE

The Brits have been preparing for some time the after Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White cuisine. Not that there is a british style but we can certainly say that the emerging chefs are pro-locavore and that they are sourcing the best products of the island of Albion. In the very cosmopolitan London, the influences of young chefs are many, which give them a unique culinary personality.

In this group comes Isaac McHale, a young Scottish chef who gives the mandate to highlight the vegetables left out, Game and British’s products from the Borough Market (local produces). Despite his internships with some the best creative chefs in the world (Best, Chang, Rezepi), McHale cites mostly the young chef emeritus Brett Graham (The Ledbury) as a strong influence in his cuisine and how to structure a high quality restaurant. Like Graham, McHale has a great understanding of flavors.

The art transmitted by Brett Graham (and others) is always to highlight the flavors and make a complex cuisine seem simple (ostensibly). Isaac McHale follows the same tracks.

Q+A WITH ISAAC MCHALE (www.thecloveclub.com ):

1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?

IMcHale- There is a definite focus on northern European traditions and foods, especially the old varieties of vegetables and amazing wild game we are lucky to have in the UK. I am interested in vegetables and herbs playing a more prominent role in cooking, being the focal point of a dish rather than simply flavours to highlight and compliment a central, expensive protein. And being Scottish I am always trying to sneak oats, heather and whisky onto my menu.

2-(Scoffier) Elliot’s Borough Market is your first restaurant or concept. Can you describe Elliot’s? And it is the embryo of your future restaurant? What’s next?

IMcHale- The focus at Elliot’s will be to create a restaurant that is welcoming, gastronomic and is affordable. I want to create a restaurant that my friends and people my age will want to come each week, not just for a dress up, once a year, occasion. I want to give people a great experience without the price tag, food that tastes great, with a high level of skill involved but more modest ingredients, nothing flashy.

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

IMcHale- Growing up in Glasgow in Scotland in the 80’s, there was no native cuisine, outside of history books and castle tours, so I don’t feel I have a culinary heritage. We have some of the finest produce in the world in Scotland, yet we have the worst diet in the world. As an 8 year old kid I wanted to know how to make chicken pakora. That is how I ended up cooking for a living, and I still love spices, but today they play a minor, supporting role in the food that I am interested in cooking.

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

IMcHale- Old varieties of vegetables and ‘secondary cuts’ of vegetables are of great interest to me. Bolted lettuce stems, cabbage flowers, cauliflower leaves, garlic buds, mangold-wurzel, second year leeks and horseradish stems. Vegetables have replaced high technique as the most important part of the genesis of a dish.

5-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?

IMcHale- The 3 weeks i spent in the kitchen of Noma was a game-changer, and René (Redzepi), Christian (Puglisi) and everyone were very welcoming, I will always remember that. Brett Graham has been a great influence and remains a great friend. In my 5 years at The Ledbury it has been a pleasure to be part of the team that gained one and then two Michelin stars, and only yesterday was voted Best Restaurant in Britain, and best service in Britain at the National Restaurant Awards. Brett IS The Ledbury and both awards are testament this maturing and growing from a talented cook into a brilliant chef with a style of his own into a great restaurateur.

I have learned so much from Brett and his long time Sous chef Nathan Thomas about what it takes to create and maintain a restaurant at that level. I still call Brett for advice.

6-(Scoffier) I know you have had several short experiments alongside top chefs (Best, Chang, Redzepi etc.), what were you looking for exactly? Soul, spirit…

IMcHale- You take different things from every stage. It could be an ingredient, the way a vegetable is cut, the way a fish is cooked or the way the food is put on the plate. It could be the service ware or the way the head chef briefs his team after a service. It could be the way they clean the kitchen, the use of an unusual herb, a technique you haven’t seen before. It could be the way the food is stored or the kitchen is organized or the height of the stools and their elevation in relation to the chef on the other side facing them. It could be the way the staff interacted with each other. I have taken all these things from my time in other kitchens, no matter how trivial they may seem to others, and I am grateful to the chefs you mention, and others, for allowing me to do so.

7-(Scoffier) How do you develop (your inspiration) your recipes and construct your menu?

IMcHale- I first look to the seasons and the best ingredients. The rest falls in behind that.

8-(Scoffier) I know that the chef Pascal Barbot (L’Astrance) take a lot of time choosing and picking his produces at the market. Do you spend as much of time to choose and pick your produces?

IMcHale- Yes, I am lucky to be opening a restaurant in Borough Market, London’s finest food market, so I will have the best of the best on my doorstep. Furthermore one of the stallholders, Chegworth Valley farm (http://www.chegworthvalley.com/) are growing rare varieties of vegetables for me. I am very lucky to be so close to the growers and suppliers who make Borough Market great.

9-(Scoffier) Do you use some elements from molecular gastronomy or new technology in your cooking techniques? If yes, which?

IMcHale- I use some modern techniques and equipment, but a KitchenAid and blender were new kit once. Puff pastry was a new technique once. Technique and equipment shouldn’t define the soul of a chef.

10-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Isaac McHale?

IMcHaleRecipe: Slow cooked Pheasant Egg with Smoked Fonduta and Cauliflower

11-(Scoffier) What is your goal (ambitions) as chef? Your Restaurant, a book, others?

IMcHale- I am a driven and ambitious person, and down the line Yes I would love to write a book. Right now my goal is opened Elliot’s and making it’s a success, and making customers really happy. As the restaurant grows my cuisine will become more defined. It’s going to be an exciting journey and I can’t wait to start. We will be doing another pop up, this time closer to home in Borough Market, from the 9th until the 24th of December. Details will be appearing on our website as they are confirmed.

RECIPE: Slow Cooked Pheasant Egg with Smoked Fonduta and Cauliflower (serves 4)

SlowcookPheasantEgg/http://foodsnobblog.wordpress.com/

Ingredients and Progression Recipe

-1 cauliflower

-3 gherkins

-300g Fontina

-200g water

-200g milk

-1 garlic clove

-6 pheasant eggs (you have 2 extra eggs in case of breakages)

1. Mix the water and milk, place in a shallow container and smoke over oak wood chips.

2. Cook pheasant eggs for 25 minutes at 65 degrees celcius. Refresh in cold.

3. Prepare 12 nice florets of cauliflower, and blanch in boiling water until just tender. Refresh.

4. Slice gherkins on mandolin in to long strips. Gherkins should be the non-sweet kind.

5. Cut garlic in half and rub over inside of a small pot. Pour smoked water/milk inside and the diced fontina and warm gently.

6. When the mixture is warmed through but not boiling, blend until smooth. it should be the consistency of a thick puree soup. Check for smokiness and smoke this sauce again if necessary. Keep warm.

7. To serve, reheat the eggs at 58 deg for 10 min., warm the cauliflower in a pot with a little butter and water and pinch salt.

8. Arrange 4 warmed plates and, moving quickly, place 3 florets on each plate, crack the eggs into small rice bowls then lift one onto each plate, season the egg then nape with a ladle full of the smoked fonduta. Place 2 slices gherkin draped over cauliflower on each plate. Serve.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

The Clove Club/Chef Isaac McHale
Shoreditch Town Hall
380 Old Street,
London, EC1V 9LT

-Young Turks/Chef Isaac McHale (+ James Lowe & Ben Greeno)

http://youngturks.co/

-Review(s):

1. (upcoming) Vogue UK, December 2010, http://www.vogue.co.uk/magazine/issue.aspx

2. Young & Foodish, June 2010, http://youngandfoodish.com/london/is-isaac-mchale-the-next-big-thing/

3. Borough Market (Video), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ertwOSe4mF4&feature=related

4. The Scotsman, Januray 2011

Tous droits réservés. Copyright Scoffier © 2008-2013

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