The English Restaurant Brigade
Jean-Paul Martin, a native of Nimes, France, is our head chef, and has been cooking in fine dining restaurants in France and England for the last 17 years.
He began his career at Hotel le Chantoiseau, near Reims in the Champagne region, where he learned the basics of haute cuisine. From here he moved to Castillion-du-Gard near Avignon where rose to commis chef position and he credits working with celebrated chef Jean-Michel Pages as enlivening and shaping his early career.
Though he has always loved gastronomy and fine dining he says that it is the more rustic dishes of French and English cooking that he enjoys making the most - and perhaps anyone sampling our signature steak and onion pudding will be inclined to agree. His passion for regional cooking also extends to South Asian cuisine (never far from us in contemporary East End) which he wants to explore further. Bold colours and flavour combinations are a particular draw.
Though we are English to our finger tips, we take pride in our foreign chefs and dishes. French is the first language spoken in our kitchen - there is no better way!
Jean-Paul is pleased to maintain a consistantly high quality of innovation and development, as well as presentation and taste, emerging from our kitchen. He believes, with us, that our English Restaurant, with its unfailing emphasis on quality, cooking always and only from fresh ingredients, has huge upside and potential. We trust you will agree.
Ronnie Alli grew up in Nigeria before moving to France as a young boy where his love of all things culinary began.
He worked in kitchens in Paris where he soon became fluent in the fundamental skills and techniques which flow from a comprehensive understanding of that great cuisine. He moved to England and started in this country with a job at Coast restaurant in Mayfair, where he was much called upon to exercise his skill with fish and seafood.
He loves the delicacy of fresh seafood and says that care and patience are the most important ingredients in bringing out the best in your dish. His favourite role in the kitchen is working the hot section and remembers with especial fondness his time at Boisdale of Belgravia working for Bill Jones, where he cooked for celebrities, including a very appreciative Sir Sean Connery amongst others.
Rytis Jotauta, trainee chef and recent graduate in London of the NVQ scheme, began working in our restaurant as a kitchen porter some 5 years ago.
Whilst he knew little more than the basics in knife skills and catering when he first arrived, he has now become an integral part of the kitchen, and his skill and training as a chef has progressed so far that he has even begun leading the service on occasion.
Rytis is perhaps our most adept breakfast chef on staff and has time and again demonstrated his ability to send up hundreds of fantastic looking plates on a hectic Sunday morning. He has also shown skill and flare in the pastry section, including making our signature chocolate fondant dessert, and is planning to indulge in his own kitchen a passion and desire to learn about South East Asian cooking.
Baye Mbaye grew up in Senegal before moving to Portugal with his family in his teens and it was at high school in Portugal when he first knew he wanted to be a chef.
After graduating from the national culinary school in Estoril, Baye started as a commis chef at the Hotel Pestana Palace and, following travel in Europe, had soon worked his way up to a sous chef position at the Michelin-starred Ocean restaurant in Jersey’s Atlantic Hotel.
Due perhaps to living and working in Jersey and Portugal, Baye excels at cooking fresh seafood. And in common with our other senior chefs, he has total mastery of the fundamentals of serious professional cooking.
Baye gives voice to a restless curiousity about restaurant cooking, and is always looking for opportunities to innovate and make something new.
This is what is very different, we humbly submit, about our kitchen. We are proud to make all our own stocks and sauces. There is nothing bought in. We know how to bone out a quail, bake whole sea bream in greaseproof, make haggis from sheep's pluck and delicately stuff a rabbit leg. If there are limits to our knowledge, we have not met them yet. We are very proud of the range and depth of skill in our kitchen, and Baye perfectly complements our brigade.
© Kitchen photograph by Peter Boisseau