Chef in the Spotlight

I am very pleased to kick off my new Chef in the Spotlight feature. A big thank you to the wonderful Louis for being my very first interviewee.

Name: Louis Harris


Current position:Chef De Partie

Before we get started what are you drinking? Chai Tea

And how are you? I’m really good. The sun is shining and it’s my day off.

Where was your first job? Catering was always my passion. I never wanted to do anything else. I did really well in my GCSEs and my parents and teachers tried to persuade me into other areas but I got a Saturday job at Bordeaux Quay when I was 15. I started there full time straight from school. I started as an apprentice, then worked my way up to commis then chef de partie.

What is your favourite music to listen to in the kitchen? I like a bit of everything. Mostly upbeat pop music. I like Harry Styles, Florence and The Machine. First thing in the morning though I like a bit of relaxed jazz. Some people in the morning go for heavy metal or insane drum and base and I just think “Not the time!”

What’s your favourite dish to cook?

At work? I don’t work on pastry at the moment but I have to say I always loved making choux buns. I loved getting the knack for them and seeing them come out perfect. I love the skill and the precise measures in pastry.

At home? I did a lot of baking when I was at home thanks to covid. I loved making focaccia. I loved the fact that once I knew the recipe it was so easy. I also loved cinnamon buns. I experimented a lot with healthy and vegan food too. Baked orzo was a favourite.

What season inspires you most? Definitely summer. I love the idea of fresh produce, fresh salad. All the different fruits and vegetables that are available you have the freedom to do whatever you want. I like light and flavourful food which I think is much easier in the summer than in the winter.

What has been your biggest challenge in the kitchen? Being young.You get the young person shit, the jokes thrown at you. Growing up i wanted to establish myself as a serious person, an adult. That was hard when people saw me as the baby of the restaurant. I think people I have worked with for 4 or 5 years find it hard not to see me as that 17 year old kid anymore.

What do you do to wind down after a long shift? Laughs, I go straight to bed. No I think it is important to sit down and have a drink. being in the restaurant is a very serious business and its nice to sit down and have that go away. You can be annoyed with someone during service but as soon as you sit on that bench it disappears. When I get home I eat anything that has substance to it. I just get into bed and either read my phone or a book. I think if it is a day off it is important to try to rest. To have days where you do nothing and fully distance yourself from work. You can go a long time just focused on work and you need to be able to separate that side of yourself.

If you could sit and have dinner with any three chefs, famous or not famous, living or dead, who would you choose? I’m going to base this on when I was growing up. Who I looked to when I was developing my strong passion for catering.

Michelle Roux, I was always watching Masterchef as a teenager and even as a kid you could always see him in an idol kind of way.

Heston Blumenthal, As well as catering I was really into and really good at chemistry. I just loved watching some of the things he was pulling off. It was insane to me as a kid. I loved watching him use the different chemicals and was really interested in the how and the why of what he was doing.

Monica Galetti, again she was someone who was always there. I’m in touch with my feminine side and I’m really close to my mum. It was good to see a woman in the kitchen as you don’t see many.

What’s the vibe of the dinner party? I like to keep it more casual. I very much like the idea of really good food, sharing food. Drinking wine in the sun. Going late into the night. A sort of Italian or Spanish vibe.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting in the industry what would it be? Just keep pushing through. It is easy for the job to swallow you. It physically drains you, it mentally drains you. You see a lot of chefs sort of come and go. I have managed to get to the point where nothing phases me. I feel like I have come through the worst. It is hard but if you keep pushing you come to the point where you’re at the end of that tunnel. You can see the light. Believe in yourself.

Quickfire Round

Coffee or Monster? Monster.

Biro or sharpie? It depends on the job I’m doing and the state of the pen. No short blunt sharpies thank you! Usually though whatever I can get hold of.

J Cloth or Blue Roll? I try not to use too much of either for environmental reasons but Blue Roll I think you can get more out of it.

4 litres or 9 pans? Again depends on the job. For putting things away a 4 litre with a lid is just easier but 9 pans are much better to organise my section.

Would you rather?

Would you rather have an infinite supply of potatoes or an infinite supply of plain flour? Plain flour, it’s more versatile.

Would you rather be able get a veg delivery 365 days a year or that every table above 5 covers had to pre order? I think the delivery would be more useful. I’m not that bothered about what tables order. You can always push through. I think, especially on weekends and bank holidays, not having stock is a bigger issue.

Would you rather never eat another starter or never eat another dessert? Definitely never eat another starter. I have a sweet tooth.

Would you rather always work Christmas day or always work new year’s eve? I’m very family oriented so definitely I would rather work new years eve.

Thank you Louis for a great first interview. Look out for the next one!

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