Chef of the Week – Olivier Briault of The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel in Birmingham

How long have you worked at the Edgbaston?
Two and a half years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I developed a passion for baking and experimenting with different ingredients from a very young age. Both my dad and grandfather owned a boulangerie and I was asking questions and getting stuck in at every opportunity. When I moved to Paris, I worked in many patisseries and bakeries and quickly picked up new skills, whilst experimenting to develop my own personal approach to cooking.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I really enjoy teaching young chefs, and developing new practical techniques with them. It’s a very interesting job – we always have something new to learn or a new ingredient to use.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Vanilla, chocolate, flour.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Airbrush compressor and thermometer.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I really like to use chocolates in different aspects like bonbons, ganache and ice cream, and trying new recipes to make something unique.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down? 
There are so many different things to learn in this job, it’s good to take time to learn every department step by step, the only advice I can give is don’t be in too much of a hurry when you start this job. Take your time and listen to the chefs you are learning from. Chefs need to be prepared to work long hours and change their place of work every so often to learn different ways of working.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I really like summer. I think it’s the best season for pastry chefs as we can get very nice berries and it’s when people enjoy eating cakes.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I’m proud of my macaroons; they are on our afternoon tea menu, they always have the right texture and we change the flavour each seasons.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I meet with the team before each new menu is created; everybody brings new ideas to the table and we go through a process of elimination. In the end, we select all the best cakes for our next afternoon tea.

Who was your greatest influence?
My father is my greatest influence, I learned a lot from him, especially all the basic French cakes and breads recipes. Still now he always have something new to show me when I visit.

Tell us three chefs you admire
Pierre Herme, Jean Michel Perruchon and Antonio Bachour.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Petits Gateaux by Jean-Michel Perruchon.