Chef of the Week: Francesco Coratella, Executive Pastry Chef at 5 Hertford Street & Oswald’s in London
How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
After spending almost 3 years at The Savoy Hotel, I just started a new adventure 3 month ago as Executive Pastry Chef for 5 Hertford Street and Oswald’s private members club in the heart of Mayfair.
Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
It might sound like a cliché, but it comes from a young age. When my parents were working, I used to spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my grandmother. Since then I fell in love with the genuine and simple food that she was preparing.
As I got older, I understood that I could make my future out of it, and I decided to study in a culinary institute in central Italy. I actually started as a chef in the hot kitchen, but I always had passion for pastry, and during my school holidays I had the opportunity to be apprentice to one of the best pastry chefs in Italy, Gino Fabbri, I decided to take a different path in my career and become a pastry chef.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Training a new generation of chefs and sharing my knowledge and passion with other professionals. The most beautiful thing about my job, is that you never stop learning, it is a constant evolution process that never stops if we still have the determination and perseverance to always do better.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Chocolate, fruit and nuts.
Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Baking is my passion so I would say my oven.
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Vegan and plant-based food is a trend that is really taking over, and as chefs we have the responsibility to adapt our food to this increasing demand.
What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
To ignore the seasonality and sustainability of your the ingredients
What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
The summer, because of the variety of ingredients that are available throughout the season.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Honey parfait, pear and ginger. A dessert that I developed in collaboration with Bermondsey street honey a local London producer. The idea came after a food trip to the site with my team to understand the importance of the bees in our ecosystem, this is how then I decided to create a dessert with their unique product.
How do you come up with new dishes?
I’m manly inspired by the season and being a food lover a lot of inspiration comes from the dining experience I do during my time off.
My team is also a great inspiration for me, when we develop new dishes, it is not only about what I want but I also constantly get the team involved and help them refine and realise their ideas which eventually will become part of our menus.
Who was your greatest influence?
The greatest influence so far in my career as been working as pastry chef for Graham Hornigold former corporate pastry chef for Hakkasan group, he was the one together with Daniel Pearse his Head pastry chef at the time to shape and refine my skills that eventually took me where I am today.
Tell us three chefs you admire.
Leonardo Di Carlo, Frank Hasnoot and Emanuele Forcone.
What is your favourite cookbook?
Tradizione in evoluzione by Leonardo Di Carlo, I consider this cookbook my bible
Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
A great creative and young pastry chef to watch on the London scene now is Michael Kwan, great friend and former colleague now in charge of the pastry department in Hotel Café Royal.
What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Talking about new openings last year is a bit difficult after the pandemic badly affected the hospitality industry as well as many others. But this year seems to be brighter with few interesting new openings. One of those has been the recently open Al Mare restaurant, at the Jumeirah Carlton tower. A modern Mediterranean fine dining restaurant, that is focused on fresh, quality fish and seafood with a vibrant and modern dining room and open kitchen.