Chef of The Week – Mark Walsh, Head Chef at Harvey Nichols Birmingham

The Chefs’ Forum Chef of The Week this week is Mark Walsh, Head Chef at Harvey Nichols Birmingham – Congratulations Mark!

How long have you worked at Harvey Nichols Birmingham?
I have worked here for two years. I worked at loads of places before that including Hogarth’s in Solihull, Riber Hall in Matlock, The Castle Hotel in Taunton and Middlethorpe Hall in York.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My dad was a chef so most of my passion for cooking came from him. I learnt my skills in restaurants I’ve worked through the years. There’s always something new to learn – every day is a school day!

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Experimenting with new ingredients and creating new dishes.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, garlic and butter.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My palette knife and my I.O Shen knives.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Mexican flavours are taking over as street food dominates the food market more and more South American flavours and styles are emerging.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Panic and disorganisation.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Autumn, because it’s full of natural earthy and gamey flavours.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
On my current menu, duck with mango carrot puree and pak choi combine a mix of flavours and textures that harmonise on the plate. I am also very proud of my scallop dish, pea puree, pea popcorn and sweetcorn. Delicious.

How do you come up with new dishes?
As a kitchen, we look at fruit and vegetables in season and collaborate on everyone’s ideas to come up with the perfect dish.

Who was your greatest influence?
My greatest influences are the youths within my kitchen, each one of them brings a different concept to the table as they all come from different learning backgrounds. They bring a lot of energy to the menus.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Nico Ladenis, Marco Pierre White and Escoffier.

What is your favourite cookbook?
There are three – ‘Nico’ by Nico Ladenis, ‘White Heat’ by Marco Pierre White and Escoffier’s ‘Le Repertoire de la Cuisine’.

Who are the chefs to watch over the next few months?

Angelina Adamo who is moving to The Park in York. She was part of the winning college team for the Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or and runner-up in the British poultry finals.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
The “newly refurbed” Simpsons in Birmingham.

For more information on Harvey Nichols Birmingham Restaurant please click here