What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?
I used to stand in the kitchen with my grandmother as she used to slowly braise the beef for the steak pie. I remember the aroma more than anything else – it was salivating.
What, or who, would you say has inspired your cooking the most?
I would have to say Alan Hill my first executive Chef at the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh. A giant of a man wit the most delicate of touches and incredible attention to detail.
Describe your culinary style…
Good question! Natural would be a rather good word as I don’t believe in over-touching and messing around with food. The less we cut, shape and garnish our sea food the better. I like to let the natural beauty shine through.
What would you say is the main focus/concept for your menu at Ondine?
Our main focus is seasonality with a direct focus on sustainability. We work closely with our suppliers and the initiatives such as the National Lobster Hatchery to get the freshest produce possible whilst preventing over-fishing and other negative environmental factors.
What do you think makes a restaurant or menu sosuccessful?
I believe the success comes from how you approach our service every day. Ondine has a very social dining room with friendly, extremely attentive and not too formal service which allows guests to really enjoy the honesty and integrity of the food.
What are your most indispensable ingredients?
Ah, tough one that! I would have to say Oysters. I really couldn’t imagine Ondine without oysters.
Do you think it’s important to championing local products and supplier? and if so, why?
Simply put – Our suppliers are part of the Ondine family. They share our values, especially Welch Fishmongers in Newhaven, and as a result of working so closely with them they give us the most incredible produce and service.
What kind of experience do you aim to give guests when you cook for them?
I like to give an experience of fun & enjoyment. I try not to hide behind over elaborate foams & garnishes and allow a natural and fresh appearance on the plate.
Whattrends or changes in fine dining have you witnessed overrecent years?
Oh gosh, don’t get me started. Plates are a big one just now which I think goes hand in hand with the rise of social media and Instagram. I’ve seen quite a few food trends come and go but they will always end up going back to the classics.
What’s next for you/What projects do you have lined up?
Ah, well myself and my wonderful fish merchant Welch fishmongers will be opening a rather exciting project in May…
What is your guilty pleasure?
Negronis; I love them. I find it rather hard to resist them if I’m honest! I was in Quo Vadis the other week after we had finished a special dinner at Outlaw’s at The Capital. They went down far to easily.
What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?
I would have to say Shosharu in Clerkenwell which is Jason Atherton’s Japanese restaurant. Alex Craciun has a heavenly touch and such a great understanding of Japanese cookery. In fact any of Jason’s fine eateries would make my list.
Find out more about Chef Brett and Ondine here…