From Idea to Plate

A Head Chef has to be many things to his or her audience; a vital one is knowing how to transform an idea for a new dish onto the diner’s plate.  Here our editor discusses with the Salthouse’s main man in the kitchen – Chris McQuitty – how to pass the various tests that lie along the way: 

Chris is a man who normally lets his food do the talking, but I was able to prise him away from his culinary office just long enough to chat about his latest creation which is about to grace the Hotel’s Eaterie menu…

“Ideas always start by looking at what’s in season” explains Chris.  The Head Chef’s new dish is inspired by the proximity of the sea at Felixstowe and his friendship with local fisherman James.  ‘Fish & Chips’ might seem an easy menu option for any chef, but it’s about consistency for this gifted, young cook.  Steak & chips and fish & chips are two of the choices that diners expect to see on any given menu, so how does Chris do absolute justice to a dish that can be found ‘anywhere’.  “A quality piece of cod allows me to do the least to it” says Chris.  “When cod that was landed only the day before leaves my kitchen after minimal but careful attention, there’s no better feeling”.

Following an in-house tasting session with his sous chefs, Chris will be joined by Hotel owner Robert Gough, Operations Director Lynn & Hotel GM Diogo.  After that, a full colleague tasting session will be undertaken, to ensure that all servers can get excited themselves about the invention and equally as importantly, be able to competently explain the dish to the diner.

So, back to the subject dish…..I was invited back a week after the interview to get involved in an exclusive Waterfront Life taste test.  I discovered a carefully crafted plate of cod and fried potato spaghetti, along with a nod to tartare sauce in the form of tempura battered, caper berries.  A very autumnal looking pea puree, together with garden peas and a parsley mash complemented my host’s artists’ palette.  Chris had excelled himself with appearance & taste and another fantastic dish is transformed from a superior culinary mind to a waiting public.