11th May 2016
We sat down with our Kitchen Manager, Darren to find out more about his vision for the Waterfront Café and hear about his recent experience working with our Sky Dining Guest Chef Stephanie Moon.
First, we’re keen to find out where your chef aspirations began…
So Darren, when did you decide you wanted to be a chef?
At school, during my GCSEs. I was doing a Catering GCSE and decided that’s what I wanted to do.
How did you train to be a chef?
After completing the Catering GCSE, I went on to do a 3 year Professional Cooking course at Fareham College. I’ve worked as a professional chef now for about 8 years and joined the Emirates Spinnaker Tower team 1 year ago before becoming Kitchen Manager earlier this year.
In your role, you’re responsible for coming up with the menu alongside the Food and Beverage Manager. The Summer menu launch is round the corner so what are you most looking forward to in the new menu?
What are you looking forward to in the summer menu?
We’re introducing open sandwiches with two classic flavour combinations to choose from. Roast beef, horseradish and beetroot or Smoked salmon and sweet chilli crayfish.
Is using local ingredients important to you?
Yes, I’m quite passionate about using local suppliers where we can. I find I get better products from local suppliers and it’s nice to always know where the ingredients are coming from. Plus, you always know what you’re getting is fresh. We have recently become members of Hampshire Fare, which recognises our commitment to using local produce in our Café.
Which Hampshire suppliers do you use in the Waterfront Café?
Buckwells, Fruit Chief and Minghella’s. We are hoping to use Johnson’s for their fantastic fish in our summer menu which will launch in June.
What is your vision for the future of the Waterfront Café?
I’d like to make the whole menu as fresh as possible and introduce as many local suppliers as we can. Putting it simply, the aim is to be the best we can possibly be.
You recently had the opportunity to work with Chef Stephanie Moon, who will be the guest chef for our pop-up restaurant in the summer.
Did you enjoy your experience working with Steph recently?
Yes, I really enjoyed working with Steph! It was great to refresh the skills I learnt at college for fine dining. She gave me some great tips on how to manage my kitchen, working with my team to deliver consistently great food.
What dish did you most enjoy preparing for the Sky Dining menu launch?
The Main course because it’s my sort of food. I like working with meat, producing sauces and jus.
And finally, a few foodie questions for you…
What’s your favourite meal?
Beef Wellington is a nice rich dish and is such a classic. It takes a good bit of skill to make too!
Who is your culinary hero?
Tom Kerridge is my favourite chef. I admire the way he takes pub classics to a new level.
Thanks Darren – we’re looking forward to the summer menu!