Chef of the Week: Leon Seraphin, Chef Trainer at Beyond Food Foundation in London

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
9 years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for cooking goes back to growing up as a child. My mother’s Sunday dinners inspired me. She would cook a range of dishes for me and my siblings.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I love how every day is different and the number of people I get to work with. I love how I can create recipes and that there is a variety of available places and job roles. I also love the respect you get as a chef and that you can start right at the bottom and work your way to the top no matter what your background is.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Thyme, rosemary and garlic.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
I am torn between a Dutch Pot/Ninja air fryer.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I love cooking over a live fire with charcoal and oak wood. I also love slow cooking and smoking foods.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Empathy, happiness, being kind and work-life balance.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Spring/ Summer. I love this season everything from asparagus, Jersey Royals, peas, broad beans, spring lamb, the list goes on!

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the dishes I created during lockdown. I cooked a range of dishes and wrote recipes for 2 cookbooks. I did an amazing lamb dish: Loin and cutlet of spring lamb, dauphinoise potatoes, wild garlic puree, fresh peas, and heritage carrots.

I also made up a dish with Fried Parrotfish Escovitch. I made Jerk beef short ribs with mac and cheese balls and pickled slaw. Finally, I have made my green seasoning which can be used in any dish to add flavour with a Caribbean kick.

How do you come up with new dishes?
By taking a walk to Borough Market for seasonal inspiration, looking through websites like the Great British larder and cook books.

Who was your greatest influence?
Caribbean cooking and my mother, Heather is my greatest influence.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Just two for now – Prue Leith and Raymond Blanc.

What is your favourite cookbook?
I have two favourites! ‘Feast for Purpose’ and ‘Practical Cookery.’

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Ruth Hansom, Jason Howard, Kerth Gumbs.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
I have seen a pop up called The Future Plate which sounds so interesting and there are always different guest chefs.