Chef of the Week: Gareth Hope – Executive Chef at St Pierre Marriott Hotel & Spa in Chepstow, Wales
How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My uncle was a chef and taught me some basic cooking from a young age. Always loved cooking, learnt my trade
in busy hotels and a college background.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I enjoy the high pressure and fast paced environment.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Garlic, lemon and the humble onion!
Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
I have a small Oxo cranked fish turner which I have had for years and am very superstitious about. I can’t run a section without it.
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Im seeing some incredible transformation in how people see vegetarian and vegan meals recently, they are no longer frowned upon across the industry. Forcing some great imagination and use of some simple vegetables.
What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Over complicating dishes to the extent that they lose the integrity of the dish.
What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I love spring for the lamb and all the fresh pods available. Asparagus season, Jersey royals and great crab are some highlights of the year for me.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
My Junior Sous Chef taught me a yogurt and lime mousse a few years back that was incredible, very simple ingredients and a very powerful impact of flavours.
How do you come up with new dishes?
What’s I’m season, who I am cooking for and I try to do something that I have never done before, either a new playing technique or combination of ingredients.
Who was your greatest influence?
My Dad influences me the most, he has a huge morale compass and regardless of business or personal gain he always encourages you to do what is right. He’s a great man and has always supported me.
Tell us three chefs you admire.
Raymond Blanc, his persona, energy and philosophy about food is inspirational. His food can be simple but extravagant at the same time. I’m a big fan of Michel Roux Jnr, a very pleasant person with enormous talent. Love his books and his passion for food. Kerth Gumbs has caught my eye over the past few years, he is producing some incredible dishes in Mayfair and he keeps sharing and helping others improve themselves. He has massive talent for originality and his food is inspirational.
What is your favourite cookbook?
I bought Gordon Ramsay 3 star chef about 15 years ago for £5 and was the bargain of a lifetime. It demonstrates incredible skill and even now the dishes are holding their own.
Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
As mentioned above Kerth Gumbs is doing an amazing job in Ormer of Mayfair. I’d also mention Hywel Griffith of Oxwich Beach House. I’ve had a couple of incredible meals there in a beautiful location too.
What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Not quite in the last year but in 2018 Albert Adria opened Cakes and Bubbles which is incredible, I managed to go in January this year and didn’t disappoint. The cheesecake was the star of the show, well worth a trip.