Chef of the Week: Kamaldeep Singh, Executive Chef at The Royal Horseguards Hotel in London

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have been working at The Royal Horseguards Hotel as Executive Chef for the last 16 months. Our One Twenty One Two restaurant serves modern British cuisine, traditional afternoon tea in our relaxing lounge. Being part of one of the best hotels in London with impressive historic building and stunning views of River Thames and a splendid kitchen team who delivers and excellent culinary experience all the time is very rewarding.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I’ve always had a love for food and at an early age I used to be very curious around my mother about what she is cooking and was keen on playing with ingredients in our kitchen. I grew up watching my mum cook and had in mind where I am heading to. I trained in the best kitchens at Taj, Hyatt & Le Meridien back home and then in London at The Savoy where my training under renowned chefs cemented my way to where I am today.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Being able to train the new generation of chefs, sharing my experience and always enjoying the food and love working in our fast paced kitchens day in and day out.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Maldon salt, cracked black pepper & thyme. The trio works magic all the time!

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Modern times – Thermomix has been instrumental in helping chefs in kitchens.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Trends like eco-conscious dining, customer demands for sustainable and environmentally friendly choices. Chefs trending to grow their own produce or work with local suppliers to help the environment and well being.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Lack of commitment and passion. Not trying hard and looking out for short lived success. Training under great chefs to become the best is a formula for success. Always plan, prepare and execute.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
My favourite season is summer – Playing with delicate flavours under the sun is unmatched. Fruits and vegetables are full of flavour and nutrients. Re-energising foods, salads, berries and mouth watering barbecues.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
It is hard to decide what is the best as every dish created is full of flavours and pleasing to the palate. I love to play with seafood and fish delicate flavour joined with crunchy salads and citrus dressing is match made in heaven, sea bass, prawns, oysters and lobsters to name few. Carpaccio of sea bass, prawns and scallops, crunchy dill & fennel salad and blood orange gel.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Working on seasonality of the products and then pairing the right ingredients is what I look for. Sometimes the idea is sparked while travelling to work and then trying what is in our heads. Ever evolving process to get the best combinations out on the plate.

Who was your greatest influence?
Firstly I must say it would be my mother who is still my first guru. She inspired me to be a chef and instructed not to be afraid of taking risks. Secondly, my first great mentors Patrice Martineau and Benard Mayer-Executive chefs at The Savoy Hotel. They both cemented my culinary knowledge and direction and most importantly my wife and best friend Sarabjit Kaur for supporting me throughout my career. I could not have done without her at my side.

Tell us three chefs you admire.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Must have books for chefs to refer, Thomas Kellar – The French Laundry, Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young & Maxime Bilet – Modernist Cuisine and Niki Segnit – The Flavour Thesaurus.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Mambow – Modern Malaysian restaurant in Clapton, an amalgamation of food and décor.