Irish chef Patrick Powell cooking up creative storm in London
Head chef at hip restaurant Chiltern Firehouse is headlining at Taste of Dublin next week
Patrick Powell, head chef at London’s Chiltern Firehouse: “Managing 50 chefs and ensuring we continue to deliver the high expectations that surround us.”
The last time we met, you were a 23-year-old second time around finalist in the Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year, cooking in the kitchens at DIT in 2009 – do you remember what you cooked? It was a long time ago but I’m fairly sure I cooked a pork dish, with a pineapple and black pudding croquette.
At that time you were working at Knockranny House Hotel in Westport. What have you been up to since then? Since then I’ve travelled to Australia, where I worked for a year and a half at Cutler & Co in Melbourne. After that I got on a plane to London and have been here since 2011.
What job took you to London and where have you worked there? When I arrived in London I didn’t have a job a lined up. I approached a great number of restaurants and it was Anthony Demetre who offered me a position at Wild Honey. After a couple of years, I joined the Chiltern Firehouse team to help launch the restaurant in February 2014, and I am now head chef.
What sort of restaurant is Chiltern Firehouse? It offers seasonal, creative, produce-driven food. We might do a large volume of covers daily, but the feel is that of a small, intimate neighbourhood restaurant. Our focus is on making sure each person in the restaurant enjoys their experience.
What’s it like working with Chiltern Firehouse’s executive chef Nuno Mendes, and what’s the single most important thing you’ve learned working with him? Nuno is a very approachable boss and adopts a different philosophy. He hates aggression – so often associated with high-profile kitchens – and comes at food through a completely creative angle . . . He has really taught me how important it is to discuss dishes, to let everyone have a creative input.
What are the challenges you face as head chef? Managing 50 chefs and ensuring we continue to deliver the high expectations that surround us.
What’s the dish you’re most proud of having developed? The peat-smoked short rib with burnt cabbage went down well with our customers. I love this dish as we use the whole cabbage in a few different ways. We bury the cabbage in peat/coals and then peel them down and use the hearts as one part of the dish. With the outer leaves we make a butter and then braise the cabbage hearts in the butter. We juice the remaining leaves, clarify the juice and make an oil from this. For the short rib we smoke the ribs over peat and braise in bourbon.
Will you stay in London, travel further afield again, or come home to Ireland? For the moment I’m staying in London. I would like to travel eventually, perhaps return to Asia for a while. Chef Patrick Powell will be cooking in the Electrolux Taste Theatre at Taste of Dublin in Iveagh Gardens (June 16-19th)