Chef of the Week: Stephane Delourme – Group Head Chef at Stein’s Restaurants
How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have been with the Stein family business for 24 years. I am currently group chef for Stein’s, previously I was Head Chef at The Seafood Restaurant for 21 years.
Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
As a child I spent a lot of time by the coast in Brittany. As a family we loved to collect shellfish from the shore and enjoyed eating Seafood. My mother was an excellent cook and her brother was a Chef who inspired me with tales of his gastronomic travels.
I worked in Paris (Sully d’Auteil, Prunier, Le Vieux Berlin), London (Hilton Park Lane, Quaglinos, Mirabelle) and Dublin (Parrick Guillbaud). Learning from the best Michelin starred chefs.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The camaraderie and the buzz of service. Working with the best local and seasonal produce. Seeing the development of something raw to the final dish. Learning about different cooking styles.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Butter, salt and wine (that’s what my wife said anyway). I would say fresh seafood!
Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
A sharp knife.
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
A resurgence to South American food. I’m talking about Peruvian and Argentinian dishes rather than Mexican. Lots of cooking that is a show, cooking with flames outside for example. Smoked and pickled foods.
What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Arrogance. When chefs think they are the star of the show. It should always be fun. The food is the star and it should bring people together and by joyous. Don’t take yourself too seriously and be humble.
The industry let chefs down by showcasing a hard-core lifestyle of long hours and angry chefs. I’m hopeful that post pandemic changes will be for the better and allow chefs to have a healthier work/life balance.
What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Spring of course! It’s when we have the best produce coming through, asparagus, flowers. The best choice of products and change to get creative.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I love the combination of scallops and Iberico ham. There is a dish I used to do with scallops, young spring veg and Iberico. I love cooking this dish.
How do you come up with new dishes?
I am inspired by fresh products, taste and textures.
Who was your greatest influence?
The cooking of Joel Robuchon inspired me but my workplace mentor that I learnt the most from is Gabriel Biscay (MOF).
Tell us chefs you admire
- Anthony Bourdain for his philosophy and his travel series.
- Nieves Barragan for her tenacity and drive.
- Gary Rhodes for his promotion of British cooking.
- The Roux brothers, Raymond Blanc and Escoffier for the work they did to change the way people approached eating and promoted gastronomy.
- Martin Webb, my head chef at Quaglino’s, was also an inspiration not just for cooking but also for how he manged his team and cared about people.
- Rick Stein for promoting seafood and for what he has done for Cornwall.
What is your favourite cookbook?
I have a few favourites:
- ‘Bras – Laguiole, Aubrac’ by Michel Bras (a brilliant cookery book – not about ladies underwear!’
- ‘Gibier’ by Bruno Doucet
- A Seafood Odyssey by Rick Stein
- Alice Waters and Chez Panisse – by Thomas McNamee
- L’Atelier de Joel Robuchan
- Repertoire de la Cuisine (the bible of all young chefs)
Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
John Chantarasak at AngloThai.
What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
Sam’s at Riverside in Hammersmith.