Chef of the Week: Stephen Gomes, Executive Chef at Dusk in Brentwood, Essex
How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I joined DUSK in April in 2019 ahead of its launch that year. Previously I was at Moksh in Cardiff.
Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
It’s in my blood. I’m a fourth-generation chef. My father, James, worked as an Executive Chef in India at the first five-star beach hotel there. He then amassed over 40 years’ experience across the world working in India, USA and UK, as the Executive chef in a variety of top hotels and restaurants. My grandfather served as a chef on board a battleship during World War II. My great grandfather was Head Chef at the Eastern Shipping Company during the Raj.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The hours! LOL! I love inventing exciting dishes which indulge all the senses and the way it allows me to express my personality, providing an outlet for my creativity.
Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, pepper and chillies. The first two because of their flavour intensifying qualities. Chillies because of the body’s natural endorphins they help release, creating a sense of calm and well-being.
Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My KitchenAid blender. It beats hitting things with rocks! I use if as a chopping knife, for kneading dough, blending sauces – everything. It’s fantastic for making ice cream using liquid nitrogen.
What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Nomadic, immersive dining experiences pioneered by Noma’s Rene Redzepi’s unique take on Nordic cooking relying on fermenting foraged ingredients from Danish forests.
The use of water baths is also experiencing something of a renaissance. Sous vide cooks proteins to perfection, keeping beef, lamb, fish – even eggs, succulent, moist and tender. My Teppan Nitro allows safely with liquid nitrogen at the customers table creating an anti griddle to create mango lollipops and fruit coulis.
What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Over confidence. That’s why I burn the toast every morning and why chefs are for ever slicing of the tips of our fingers.
What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Christmas, because it’s Christmas!
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
It’s always the one I’ve most recently plated. Today, it’s one of my signature dishes, a reduced lime and tomato gazpacho. Made with lecithin, it dances magnificently on the plate when you apply the magic.
How do you come up with new dishes?
Spending hours in my lab with a glass of single malt!
Who was your greatest influence?
After my father, Andrew Green CEO of Craft Guild of Chefs a leading light in the transportation modern British cooking. He has a deep knowledge of kitchen craft and is unrivalled in his sharing his extensive knowledge of the culinary arts.
Tell us three chefs you admire.
James Gomes, Thomas Keller, the American chef-restaurateur who was awarded a three-star rating in the inaugural Michelin Guide for New York and Ferran Adi who rose from being a pot washer to become the best chef in the world. Where our thinking stops, theirs begins.
What is your favourite cookbook?
Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Cookery Book, which was the best 120 quid I’ve ever spent. It taught me most of what I know about molecular gastronomy, because I didn’t pay attention in chemistry lessons at school.