FOUR catches up with the head chef at London's newest Nordic-inspired restaurant, The Dock Seafood Restaurant. Readers, we present you with - Martyn Meid...
Where did your culinary career start?
I started cooking 5 years ago in small restaurants in my hometown Klaipeda in Lithuania. Klaipedia is a seaport and it’s full of fresh fish – the traditional dish is eel, actually. So I began my culinary career learning how to cure fish and how to pickle it. I also remember cooking with my from my grandmother when I was young. My grandmother is German and we used to make traditional rye bread a lot. When I arrived in London 4 years ago I was really overwhelmed by all the generic food that was coming out of all these huge kitchens and I was so happy to be taken in by chef Alan Jones. He taught me the basics in French cuisine at his restaurant Almeida in Islington.
How would you describe your style of cuisine?
I really love Nordic food and I love the North. I have a big passion for the winter season. One of the important things for me is to create raw, natural shapes in my cooking. I don’t like straight cuts. I prefer shapes that you find in nature and actually, I’m quite a messy guy so I would say my style is messy, in a simplistic way, Nordic and wintery.
Where do you take your inspiration from?
My biggest inspiration is nature, but also music - I listen to a lot of electronic music! And buildings. I love old classic buildings, like warehouses and industrial buildings – I always find myself looking for their irregularities and then trying to recreate them in the presentation of my cooking.
When did The Dock restaurant open?
It opened 6 months ago
What is the vision behind The Dock?
We try giving the best quality that we can give. Three times a week we go to Billingsgate Fish Market in Canary Wharf to get our fish. We also choose the best local products and micro-herbs for our cooking.
How would you describe the food?
I’d describe our style as seafood with a strong Nordic touch.
What food do you like making the most?
At the moment I’m really into using Agar Agar flakes. But what I really enjoy making is our 148 hour salted cod. We serve this with smoked tomatoes - which are so rich, creamy and meaty - smoked cucumber and smoked beetroot.
What’s The Dock like inside?
The restaurant looks very clean and minimalistic. We like simple materials – metal wood and plastic. It’s quite glassy too. We’re keeping our attention on the food rather than the decoration. We want our customers to be excited by the food and to focus on that and not to be distracted by the art on the walls or the napkin rings!
So art or appearance isn’t important?
Art is important. To me, food is art. If you choose the right ingredients and the right shapes you can create art. I think the boundary between the two is very fluid. All you need is a little imagination!
What excites you about your kitchen?
I love using my Thermomix – you can almost blend stones with that thing! It’s brilliant. And the water bath, because when you’re cooking in it, you can keep a lot of the flavours in each of your dishes. We also have a Rational oven which you can use to steam bake, fry – you can do almost anything in there – even dehydrate. I’m really proud that we have such hi-tech equipment in the kitchen at The Dock.
If you could take a plane ride to anywhere in the world, just for one meal, where would it be and why?
I would want to go to Norway. I really like Maaemo in Norway – I love the stuff that chef Esben Holmboe Bang is doing. And of course Noma. I’d like to see them take the title of ‘Best Restaurant in the World’ again.
What projects can we expect to see from The Dock in the future?
Ideally we’re going to publish the Dock Book and, we’re going to get a Michelin star!
Do awards mean a lot to you?
Awards are important - it means you’re in a different league of cooking. With a Michelin star you’re playing with the strongest players around you. It’s the equivalent to if you play basketball in Europe and after you get the chance to play in the NBA. To me, Michelin stars are like playing with ‘the big boys’ and I am still young and want the chance to play with them!
For more information visit The Dock Seafood Restaurant website