Chef interviews

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Callum Graham

Interviewed July 2021

  1. Q. How long have you been cooking professionally? 
    A. I have been cooking for the last 15 years. I was around 14 or 15 years old when I really started to think that being a chef was what I wanted to do when I finished school and what I wanted to pursue a career in.
  2. Q. Where did you train to cook?
  3. A. I went to Milton Keynes college and studied in Hospitality and catering at the Bletchley campus. Following my time at MKC, I caught a break and worked at The Lanesborough under the guidance of Paul Gayler MBE. I was lucky enough to be classically trained and learn said skills, which a lot of younger chefs will miss out on. After my stint at The Lanesborough, I went on to work for other brilliant chefs such as Giles Dupont, Tommy Bryne, Christoph Moisand and finally Steve Smith most recently.
  4. Q. How would you describe your style of cooking? 
    A. There is an element of classical cooking which comes from my time in Geneva and Paris. I try to make flavours lighter and flavoursome, and dishes which are ingredient led with a touch of fun. 
  5. Q. Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?  
  6. A. There isn't a tonic or guide that you can just pick up off the shelf and say this is what's going to make it successful. I think it boils down to a combination of factors; trying to meet the guest’s expectations, which differs from restaurant to restaurant, ensuring the food that you create is relevant to your surroundings, as well as employing great staff with a passion for the hospitality industry and who are looking to build a long-term career.
  7. Q. Do you have a "signature dish" or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
    A. I don't think I do yet have a “signature dish”, although I know a lot of chefs do. A. At Bohemia there are definitely special dishes I have, depending on what time of year you dine as we change with the seasons - we are incredibly lucky with the variety of produce available locally in Jersey. That's part of the fun and the challenge; making sure that no matter what the season, the food is always of the highest standard - it keeps your creative juices flowing. At the moment, a standout dish is local sea bass, braised octopus, red pepper & harissa, courgette & coriander with a ratatouille stuffed courgette flower & tomato butter sauce. I think it's a lovely dish for the summer and our diners seem to be loving it.
  8. Q. Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off? 
    A. Awabi in Jersey is an exciting new Asian restaurant that hasn't been open long and I just love it there. It was something jersey had been crying out for a long time now. The pork and spring onion dumplings are a must; it's really nice comfort food, cooked well, and the service is always friendly and courteous. The cocktails are great too. I love supporting new family-owned businesses, people with a passion for their offering. 
  9. Q. What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?  
    A. I would say that one of the most interesting and fun experiences I have had of late would have been on a recent trip to Ynyshir. It was definitely an experience and has made me think a lot about whether a kitchen or restaurant has to be run a certain way. It was a great eye opener; they’ve taken everything you know about traditional fine dining and hospitality and flipped it on its head. Another one would be the Fat Duck. I really enjoyed how they managed to break down the social walls from the service and food they provide. I can remember chatting to the 4 other tables in our section of the restaurant and thinking it was brilliant that everyone was talking to each other and having a good time. 
  10. Q. What would be your "last request" dish? 
    A. This is a tough one, but I am going to have to say a big bowl of Pho. It's a dish that I just love to eat, it's comfort food and always makes me smile. It also reminds me of fantastic times I had in Paris as I discovered an excellent Vietnamese Restaurant when I lived there, which would provide some solace on much needed days off  
  11. Q. Is there another chef that you most admire? 
    A. I think I admire all the chefs I have worked for, without their guidance and support over the years helping mould and shape me as a chef I wouldn't be the chef that I am today. However, if I had to choose a generational chef that I think the industry wouldn't be the same without them, then I would have to say Ferran Adrià; he literally changed the game. 
  12. Q. Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef? 
    A. Make sure you write everything down, work in a place that is going to push you to do better every day and be humble. It’s a slow burner being a chef and it takes years and years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice. It’s important to know what you’re getting into and that you really do have the passion and joy for cooking. 
  13. Q. Any final thoughts you'd like to share e.g. new developments at the restaurant? 
    A. Recently we have taken the decision to move to the Lunch menu, Surprise menu and Tasting menus only. It wasn't a decision that we took lightly but in light of everything that is going on in the world, we felt it was the best decision for our guests and staff to ensure they have a fantastic experience with us. I firmly believe that the restaurant scene will change drastically in the next year or so with regards to no shows and it is becoming the “norm” to pay a deposit before you dine.