Chef of the Week: Mark Kempson, Head Chef at Kitchen W8 in London
How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I started at Kitchen W8 in September 2009.
Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I was an early starter – I began part-time cooking work in a local hotel whilst still at school and the buzz of the kitchen spurred me onto go to Basingstoke College of Technology to train properly.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Working with amazing produce and getting the best out of each ingredient.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, butter and the humble onion.
Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
A good quality heavy based pan.
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
More than ever people are turning to source the best local/seasonal UK produce.
What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Many try to run before they can walk.
What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I enjoy every new season as it brings a new larder of ingredients to work with. I particularly enjoy autumn as it game season.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
My grilled Cornish mackerel. It has been on the menu since Kitchen W8 opened and has evolved to become my signature dish.
How do you come up with new dishes?
New dishes always start with a list of the finest new season’s produce. There is nowhere else to start… ingredients are the key to any great dish.
Who was your greatest influence?
Marc Wilkinson, my first serious head chef was a huge influence, along with my college lecturer Ian Pitt who had such passion for great food and doing things correctly.
Tell us three chefs you admire
I admire all the chefs I have worked for, but Marc Wilkinson, John Campbell and Phil Howard are worthy of a special mention!
What is your favourite cookbook?
There are too many great cookbooks to choose just one! It depends on mood and what you are looking for. I find any cookbook an inspiration. If you were twisting my arm, I’d say The Dairy Book of Home Cookery (my granny loves it and we used it a lot as children), and – my first serious cookbook – Essential Cuisine by Michel Bras.
Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
The young students coming into hospitality are the ones to watch and nurture. They are the future of our industry.
What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
I particularly enjoyed a meal recently at Sucre Restaurant by Fernando Trocca.
Photo credit: @GBCHEFS