Chef of the Week: Daniele Codini, Head Chef, The Ned in the City of London
How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I’ve been at The Ned since November 2017, previously I was at Frenchie Covent Garden for almost a year.
Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
When I was a kid I started to be interested in what was happening “behind the scenes” when I was going out to eat with my parents and this definitely was one of the biggest motivation for choosing this career. I’m Italian, and unlike many Italian families mine one is not a very foodie one but I remember being charmed by grandma making fresh gnocchi in her tiny kitchen; I was standing there watching her skills. I studied at a culinary college in Italy for five years then I moved to Paris where I learned lots of classic techniques before I decided to move to the UK.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I love to work with fresh products and use them in different ways but always thinking about respecting them and finding a way to give to the customer a good and enjoyable experience.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, extra virgin olive oil and citrus – it doesn’t matter if it’s lemon, lime, yuzu, orange or whatever but the zestiness and freshness they can bring to a dish can change the overall balance.
Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
I can’t stay in a kitchen without my little tweezers. I use them to plate up, to check the cooking of fish and meat, to taste ingredients… so multi-functional.
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Lots of attention from customer and chefs towards where the produce is sourced from and also “free from” dishes and options on the menus.
What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
I see too many young chefs who want to run a kitchen just few years after they start this career. There is one thing that you can’t learn at school and/or buy and that is the experience. It takes time, effort and lots of sacrifices in this job to get to the top.
What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I love autumn because of the wonderful products and the flavours – the late summer ingredients as well as mushrooms, root vegetables and game.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I don’t have a particular dish I’m most proud of but a few that really represent me and show in different ways the steps of my career like: Umami risotto, liquorice and sweetbread; Shime Saba (Japanese mackerel) with cucumber, sake and shiso; Gnocchi, nettle veloute, frozen ricotta and kumquats or duck with sesame seeds, aubergines and plum.
How do you come up with new dishes?
I try to start thinking about the seasonal ingredients I want to use and then associate to them techniques I know or I want to try. I take inspiration from my backgrounds but also from what I see around and what I eat.
Who was your greatest influence?
My family for the support they gave me when I choose this career, standing behind me in a path they probably would have never thought I would choose. My wife for the drive and the perseverance she injected in me.
Tell us three chefs you admire
Heston Blumenthal for the approach to the kitchen I’ve learned while I was at The Fat Duck. Marta Grassi, the first female chef I worked with and the first Michelin star restaurant kitchen I had the chance to step into. Yoshihiro Murata for the influence he had on my perception of Japanese cuisine
What is your favourite cookbook?
Astrance Livre de Cuisine.
Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Endo Kazutoshi, Elizabeth Haigh-Allen and Thomas Frebel.
What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
La Dame de Pic.
Photo credit: www.fayditphotography.com