What is your ethos?
CHEFS

Words: Steve Ryan   Photography supplied by the chefs

What is your ethos?

We asked eight patrons in hospitality this simple, evocative question...

 

Owning your own business is not just about being your own boss. It’s an opportunity to bring the values that you live by into your workplace, and create an environment that displays your beliefs on full view of your staff, suppliers and customers. We asked eight patrons in hospitality one simple, evocative question.
 
 
Angela Hartnett
Murano, Cafe Murano
 
At Murano, and both Cafe Muranos, the bottom line with our cooking is that it should be seasonal, unfussy, Italian, simple. The team and I always keep this at the forefront of our minds when we’re planning new menus or concepts. I’ve been in the industry for a while now and have always been lucky enough to have some really great mentors. Now, when I work with younger chefs or those who are newer to the industry, I hope I’m able to pass on some helpful advice. I feel in our line of work, there should be a responsibility to teach the new generation and keep skills alive. From butchery to fish skills and pastry, it is all part of what a chef needs to know.
 
Sustainability is something that we try and keep as a key focus in the restaurants too – we have always done our best to collect food wastage and keep it to a minimum, and are working more and more with our suppliers to find ways of minimising packaging and using less plastic, like a lot of other restaurants are doing. It’s great that restaurants are taking on this responsibility.
 
My main values and beliefs come from my family, and sitting around a table, eating together, sharing experiences. It was always more about the company and the togetherness in our house, even more than the food. I strongly believe that that’s what restaurants should be about, the idea of letting people into “your home”. Food is, of course, important, but atmosphere and service and the overall experience are everything too. We make sure our service, at all the restaurants, is relaxed and as accommodating as possible – if the guest wants a green salad, then they should be able to have a green salad!
 
Murano
 
 
 
Bryn Williams
Odette's
 
When I first started out at Odette’s ten years ago, I had quite a set idea of what my ethos was, but it took at least a couple of years for it to become attuned with the realities of running a business. In terms of my food, my ethos is that ingredients are king – it’s paramount to source the very best. I focus on using 3-4 ingredients on a plate but making sure you get maximum flavour from each one, whether that means marinating the meat for 48 hours, or pan-frying a piece of fish for under ten minutes.
 
It also means not over complicating things – we’re not inventing the wheel but making sure the wheel goes round. The Odette’s Jaffa Cake has been on the menu for six years – it’s a hit because it’s a classic combination of chocolate and orange, which we’ve perfected and made our own. Simple as that.
 
Working in hospitality is all about people – respecting not just the customers, but everyone on both sides of the pass. At the end of the day your ethos is your product – it’s what makes a restaurant yours. You have to sell it to your customers, so they come back, but you also have to sell it to your staff. I don’t want my chefs to do what I say and cook something in a certain way because I’m their boss, but because they understand and respect why I’m asking them to do it, and they believe in the ethos too. It has to be ingrained in the whole structure of the restaurant.
 
Bryn Williams is Chef Patron of Odette’s, which celebrated its ten year anniversary in October, Porth Eirias in North Wales, and Executive Chef of Bryn Williams at Somerset House.
 
Odette’s
 
 
 
Ben Mackinnon
e5 Bakehouse
 
When e5 began during the spring of 2010, our ethos was 'small is beautiful', to incorporate a circular flow of materials, a nod to permaculture principles, and the up-cycling of found objects, which was especially sensible given there was no certainty the bakehouse would be in operation for any length of time. Organic ingredients, long slow fermentation of the dough, renewable energy and bicycle-powered bread deliveries were corner stones for the company, and remain so today.
 
Rather than a fixed ethos, ours could be described as fluid, visceral and responsive. A bakery is thrust into the service of its community; when the refugee crisis of 2015 touched employees and customers alike, we were glad to accept an invitation from the Refugee Council to take forward the Just Bread programme for training refugees and asylum seekers. Through this we teach baking and cafe skills in a fun and supportive environment. The e5 roasthouse, a cafe, coffee roasters and flatbread kitchen in Tower Hamlets, is a social enterprise we have set up to employ graduates from these courses.
 
By installing a stone mill in our bakery we created an opportunity to use fresh nutritious flour and to support change in the fields. We are nurturing new supply chains, and often purchase grain directly from farmers who are exploring regenerative farming practices and recognise the benefits of breaking away from the intensive monoculture model of modern farming. Diversity is the key.
 
e5 Bakehouse
 
 
 
Anna Hansen MBE
The Modern Pantry
 
The culinary philosophy at The Modern Pantry is driven by the desire to please and excite the palate by renewing everyday cooking with modern ingredients and global inspiration.
 
Our core values are heavily influenced by my upbringing. Although it is something we believe very strongly in now, for my family, who immigrated to New Zealand in the 1950s, ‘sustainability’ wasn’t an option. I had a modest upbringing, which meant that food was appreciated and respected, much more so than it is today. We grew much of our food in the garden, always using the whole of the ingredient. I always looked forward to my aunt visiting us from Denmark; she used to bring vanilla pods, it was such a luxury and we used it in its entirety. Once we’d scraped all the seeds out, we would use what was left of the pod to flavour sugar.
 
At The Modern Pantry sustainability is an integral part of our ethos. We create unusual combinations by fusing British seasonal ingredients with global flavours. When sourcing ingredients from further afield, we use more dry-store products rather than fresh. All our meat and fish comes from the UK, the only exception being the New Caledonian prawns used in our signature sugar cured prawn omelette; these are sustainably sourced and then frozen.
 
Restaurants often are blamed for their sustainability practices, and I do believe they have a certain responsibility, but the problem is also so much bigger than the restaurant industry. All of us, as consumers, need to change our eating habits — we cannot continue to only eat the prime cuts of meat and fish or expecting the same fruit and vegetables all year round. These are issues that need to be addressed on a much larger scale.
 
More information on Anna can be found here
 
The Modern Pantry
 
 
 
Peiran Gong & Tongtong Ren
Chinese Laundry
 
Initially, we just wanted to cook some Chinese food that we really loved for our friends in London, which started from dinner parties in our warehouse studio in Bow. And gladly that’s what we’re still doing now, for more people. Growing up in China, and having all the food tattooed in our memory till our early twenties, when we moved to here, we just wanted to cook the food we crave but we could not find it anywhere here. We are fussy eaters, so we use fresh produce and good ingredients.
 
For us, we cook with full respect to Chinese cooking methods, which truly respects nature — the best way to share our food culture. And that’s what we think of being authentic — it’s always the only word that comes in when justifying the approaches and motivation.
 
To be able to cook all the food we had in our childhood, there’s still too much to learn; Chinese people have dedicated thousands of years to food and it’s a massive system relating the universe, agriculture and food for humans, full of wisdom. And it’s a shame for it not to be understood, celebrated and appreciated. All the oily, MSG, sweet and sour concept that relates to Chinese food, well known across the world, are nothing to do with the food we eat in our daily lives in China. We are more than happy to introduce and share the delicious and tasty food we love with as many people as possible.
 
Chinese Laundry
 
 
 
Jacob Kenedy
Bocca di Lupo, Gelupo, Plaquemine Lock
 
Sharing food is the second-most primal human interaction. In my family feeding, hosting, filling a cup – are all acts of love.
What I do, I do for the love of family, food and togetherness:
 
Family:
I have a family at home; my staff are my family at work. I have a parental duty of care – it is my job to keep them safe, and to curate and inspire their development. I teach that delicious food is too precious to squander. To waste it – which could be to throw it away or to make it taste less-than-yummy, is an insult to life itself, which food nourishes. This is a moral undertaking.
 
Food:
Food for thought? NO! It’s for eating. I loathe pretension and crave simplicity. I believe technique is necessary to allow free expression – a true professional has expertise to let the cuisine shine: effortlessness takes a lifetime to master. Only the charlatan tries to show off his skill, and instead demonstrates his limits. We must be able to do much more than we do.
 
Togetherness:
You come to a restaurant to progress a relationship. This might be your personal relationship with life (dining solo) – or for friendship or business, love or lust. That relationship takes precedence over all else in the restaurant.
 
Everything I do - food, drink, service, environment – must cohere so no element demands your attention, yet gives something to celebrate if you do focus on it. Continuity is derived from limitation – so Bocca di Lupo is confined to authentic regional Italian food and wine; Gelupo to gelato, coffee and Italian sweets; Plaquemine Lock to Louisiana Cajun & Creole food, music and drink. In each, when I get it right, nothing should distract you from your companions - only enhance your togetherness.
 
Bocca di Lupo
 
 
 
Ryan Chetiyawardana
Mr Lyan
 
‘Belief’ is a great question around the Lyan family ethos, because at its heart, it’s what we try and ensure we have in every aspect. One of the things we always talked about is a sense of balance beyond what’s in the glass or on the plate – we’re trying to create things that excite and help bring people together and that involves every little detail – including beyond just the product. That means it has to be authentic, it has to be genuine, and it needs to be something to believe in. That’s crucial for our guests, but hugely for our team. We want each member to work towards a common goal (usually, helping people have fun), but with their own personality and creativity empowered to hit that task.
 
So our core beliefs cover inclusivity, a sense of fun – our tagline of #HeapsMadShit – and an attempt to do something different to what’s in the landscape; it wouldn’t be authentic to us to copy or emulate what else is going on in the industry, and we wouldn’t be able to feel honest and excited about it if we did, so we create a unified direction for the team to believe in, and to follow. But it’s never been about me, or Iain, or any of the team to lead with an iron fist. We want to create platforms for the team to do what they’re best at (and damn, they are the best), and to be excited by the intention to create warm, accessible innovation for all.
 
Mr Lyan
 
 
 
Mia Johansson
Swift
 
Hospitality is a buzz word nowadays but we work hard to make it reality in a way where it spreads from back of house to walking through the door. Hospitality is true kindness and honesty of how to treat people, from staff to guests. Our ethos is to work hard but be clever and kind. Training your staff with eagerness and kindness will get you a better end result than giving short direction without a follow up. The crew is the investment, and it is through them feeling connected to the site and its ethos that the whole venue and service can maximise and come alive in the best ways. Danny Meyer said it well — treat your staff well and the guests will follow.
 
Swift