Firstly, congratulations on winning ‘Five Star Kitchen: Britain’s Next Great Chef’ How did you find the competition?
Thank you very much. The competition process brought out every emotion in me. It really touched me on a soul level. Reignited a dormant passion in me. I discovered a new Dom. A better Dom. A new and improved version of me.
Talk us through your journey into the industry, was becoming a Chef something you always wanted to do?
Cooking somewhat chose me. I was super keen and interested as a kid to know how food was created. I was always at my elders side, watching as food was being prepared. I come from a family of great cooks. My Mum, her Mum, great aunts and so on.
Leaving school and heading to chef school was the obvious path.
What is your signature cooking style?
I have a very relaxed and almost rebellious side to me. I have to see that in my plate of food to know I’m in there. I’m not to into precise lines or rochers. I love a rocher, don’t get me wrong. But, I need my plate to feel like it just happened accidentally and uniquely. Is that a style?!
How does it feel winning your very own restaurant?
Life is really funny – you dream so long about something and then you arrive at the ‘destination’, but unbeknownst to you, you have been making space for this dream all along the journey. I am here now doing this incredible thing, with all these tools, wisdom and resources around me that I’ve been collecting for the last 30 years. It feels so divine to me. Perfect one could say!
Talk us through ‘The Good Front Room’, what is the inspiration behind it?
The Good Front Room was this magical place to me as a kid, in my great aunt Myrtle’s house. Adorned with trinkets and keepsakes. Reserved for an extra special guest.
I wanted to recreate a nostalgic moment that I knew other people would be able to relate to. Palm Court is like the best good front room ever ever!
What is the cuisine focus?
Caribbean ultimately, however, very focused on Jamaican cuisine. That said, you see influences from elsewhere in the Caribbean such as daal and roti. I love to travel, so draw influences from around the world. The Pineapple and Heirloom tomato chow is a mash up of a Trinidadian chow and a Mexican pico de gallo.
What are some of the dishes on the current menu?
Jerk Chicken| Jerk Marinated Boneless Chicken Thigh | Plantain Jam | Plantain crisp | Blackened Sweetcorn Dressing
This dish is very close to my heart. Really speaks to who I am as a chef. I’ve taken a much loved classic and elevated it in a way that is respectful of its history but still feels new.
Ackee and Salt Fish Cake | Salt Cod | Confit Garlic and Scotch Bonnet Aioli | Pineapple and Heirloom Tomato Chow | Escallion Oil
Ackee and Salt fish is our national dish. However, I’ve reimagined it. Given it a makeover if you will. Repackaged it in a way that I feel makes sense to my target audience
Bun and Cheese |Toasted spiced bun | Sweet Blue Cheese | Sour Cherries | Plantain Chutney
This one is quite special to me. That said, I don’t play favourites with my dishes. But this one felt particularly clever. I’ve been getting a great response to my version of this highly treasured Caribbean snack.
What are your favourite ingredients to work with and why?
Plantain is something of a delicacy in the Caribbean and Africa. I really love coming up with new ways in which It can be served, its so versatile. Can be eaten green in its unripe state which is starchy or blackish yellow in its most ripe state which is sweeter.
Is it important, in your opinion to create an experience with food?
Absolutely! Gone are the day when people just wanted to eat food. They want a whole presentation. A chef to meet, a considered venue, great art and music. They want to be swept up and transported into my little bubble I’ve created. I love and I’m grateful that that is the case. It makes my life’s work feel worth it.
Why should people book a table for ‘The Good Front Room’ ASAP…What can diners expect?
This is a limited time experience, a first of its kind. By coming you are being a part of history being made. You also get a special pass into a room recreated from my childhood where entry was forbidden.
Expect to be transported into a magical place where every detail has been considered for your maximum pleasure.