Chef of the Week: Junior Menezes, Private Catering Chef in London

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have been employed in the culinary industry for over twenty years, and have been working with bespoke catering for the past six years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My curiosity for cooking began at a young age of eight when I assisted my uncles in the kitchen. My inquisitive nature and passion for the craft have propelled me to where I am today.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The satisfaction of my customers and the creative process of crafting new dishes are the aspects that I enjoy most about being a chef.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Thyme, olive oil, and garlic are three ingredients that I consider essential in my culinary creations.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My knives are an indispensable tool in my kitchen, and I cannot imagine creating my culinary delights without them.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I have a particular interest in the “real food” trend, which promotes the use of fresh and natural ingredients, and minimizing processed foods.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
In my opinion, a common mistake that chefs make is prioritizing financial gain over their passion for cooking, which can result in a lack of creativity and diminished quality in their dishes. 

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
As a Brazilian, I am particularly fond of the summer season, which provides ample opportunities for grilling beef over an open flame.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
While I strive to take pride in all of my creations, currently, the most popular dish I serve at my events is the “Lemon-Crusted Salmon with Parmesan Mash and Grilled Asparagus.”

How do you come up with new dishes?
I am often inspired to create new dishes by my culinary experiences during my travels or by trying new and unique ingredients. I then explore various techniques and methods to create a dish that bears my signature style.

Who was your greatest influence?
My family has been my greatest influence, and every achievement that I make is to honor them.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
I greatly admire Chef José Andrés, Chef Gary Rhodes, and Chef Eric Bédiat for their culinary prowess, innovation, and dedication to the craft.

What is your favourite cookbook?
My favourite cookbook is “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.”

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
I believe that following the pandemic, we can expect to see a wave of exciting and innovative chefs emerging from all corners of the globe.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
I have thoroughly enjoyed the Asian-inspired dining experience at “Humble Chicken 2.0”.