Just Words.

Reflections about life in & out of the kitchen

CHEF INTERVIEWS || Tamara Westerhold of Cherubina Catering

An interview with Chef Tamara Westerhold of Cherubina Catering

cherubina catering

Tell us about yourself
I’ve been in the kitchen as long as I can remember. Everything began in my Grandmother’s kitchen.

Who inspires you in the kitchen?
I am always inspired by the people I love. I carry with me so many memories of my Grandmother and her sisters who always made us feel like they lived just to feed us! When I cook for my daughter, I can see in her the same sense of feeling loved and cared for. Cooking her favorite food makes her feel like the most important person in the world, which is how I want everyone I cook for to feel.

cherubina catering

What part of creating a dish do you enjoy the most?
I love every part of it, except doing the dishes. I always carry a notebook with me to write down ideas for future meals. I find inspiration everywhere. I really enjoy shopping for ingredients and I make it a point to establish personal relationships with all of my purveyors. They are experts at what they do and I am learning from them all the time. They help me so much. I know where all of my meat, vegetables, fruit, etc. come from. I am so fortunate to live in a part of the world where all of this is readily available. The community here relies on and supports one another.

Dinner at your local restaurant, do you order the usual, or try something new?
When it comes to what I eat, I am pretty predictable. I have my favorite dishes at each restaurant and I will undoubtedly order the same thing every time!

Describe your signature dish?
I don’t really have a specific signature dish. Soups, salads, and desserts are where I get most creative. That said, I have an undeniable obsession with honey. I use it in both sweet and savory dishes. In fact, I have planned 6 course meals around honey! It’s a remarkable ingredient.

If you weren’t a chef, what would be your job title?
Professional Seeker.

cherubina catering

Tell us about your biggest kitchen fail?
I’ve had many kitchen fails. Many of those have occurred when I was alone, or when I wasn’t alone but no one else noticed! One the most embarrassing fails was when I cut a large quantity of tomatoes in the wrong way and had the Chef throw them at me. I later learned that the Chef threw food at everyone.

What was your favourite food memory?
Eating eggs and Spanish chorizo at my Grandmother’s yellow kitchen table.

How do you play on the weekend?
I live a pretty simple life. I like to walk in the beautiful Redwoods, cook, read, watch movies, spend time with friends and family.

What music are you listening to when you cook?
Reggae, Hip Hop, 70’s Funk, Led Zeppelin.

What are you watching out of the kitchen?
British Crime Dramas or Documentaries on Netflix.

What does your daily routine look like and what do you leave to chance?
Take care of my daughter and my Mom, cook and develop recipes, get some form of exercise. Other than those things, I like to let the day take me.

If money were no object, how would your life be different, in and out of the kitchen?
Buy my Mom a house and get her a private nurse. Open a soup kitchen with a full staff, create safe and affordable housing for those in need. I would use the majority of my money to serve my community. For myself, I would love to have a place with a bigger kitchen and more storage space for all my kitchen tools and machines! I would probably still cook the same and eat the same. I would also love to continue exploring, traveling, and eating in different parts of the world.

cherubina catering

What excites you most about the future, as a chef and as a human?
We seem to be waking up in some very important ways. It excites me that we are beginning to approach learning in a more experiential way. Schools are discovering that in order for people to truly learn, they must be taught in ways that develop and nurture them as a whole person. I think we learn best through direct engagement with our environment. As a culinary student, I learned some essential skills that gave me a solid foundation on which to build. That was a key component in my overall education. But it has been invaluable for me to explore new ways of cooking and eating in order to fully round myself out as a chef. For example, reading and cooking from cookbooks has been essential to my growth. My present and future goals are to continue to learn and grow. I think we learn best by doing. You just have to get in the kitchen and cook!

Where can we find you online?

Instagram

CHEF INTERVIEWS || Chef Romain Avril

An interview with Chef Romain Avril

interview chef romain avril

Tell us about yourself
I have been in a kitchen since the age of 13. I went in a horse ridding summer camp and instead of doing the activities, I would help the chefs with the meal prep. Never looked back since.

Who inspires you in the kitchen?
Mother Nature and the season, emotions from childhood. What you see, how you feel. Those feelings help with my creations.

interview chef romain avril

What part of creating a dish do you enjoy the most?
I think sourcing and coming up with the idea then plate it and finally taste it.

Dinner at your local restaurant, do you order the usual, or try something new?
I like to always order something different, life is too short not too.

Describe your signature dish?
I hate that word signature dish, all my dishes are a signature of my creations and they will come and go on the menu.

If you weren’t a chef, what would be your job title?
Ah that’s a tough one, sport journalist maybe.

interview chef romain avril

Tell us about your biggest kitchen fail?
Wow there is so many, isn’t that why we learn and get better. I’m only as good and strong as the mistakes I’ve made.

What was your favourite food memory?
Most definitely eating langoustines with my family by the shore in our house

How do you play on the weekend?
Ah, I like to regroup and decompress away from the noise and stress of the city.

What music are you listening to when you cook?
I usually don’t like to put music, I like silence.

What are you watching out of the kitchen?
Sports, all of it.

What does your daily routine look like and what do you leave to chance?
Espresso, walk with my dog, shower and clean up and off to work.

If money were no object, how would your life be different, in and out of the kitchen?
I love when people cook for me, there is always something about it. It tastes better, even a little sandwich.

interview chef romain avril

What excites you most about the future, as a chef and as a human?
I love tools and technology that helps the chefs to achieve something greater for our guests.

Where can we find you online?

Instagram

CHEF INTERVIEWS || Denis Calmis of Drabani

An interview with Denis Calmis of Drabani

interview denis calmis

Tell us about yourself
I was born in Moldova and I’ve been cooking since I was a kid. I think I inherited my talent from my Mum. I studied culinary art in the capital of MOLDOVA and then I moved to continue in Moscow. I worked in many restaurants in Moscow but I spent most of my time at Café in the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, which was a very productive period of my career. During my time there I designed menus in-house, wrote books and blogs and I was point of contact for catering across various events and parties, from fashion to art to charity. I opened two restaurants during my time in Moscow: the vegetarian restaurant ‘Little gem’, and my own restaurant ‘Academy by Denis Calmís’. I moved to London two years ago after seven years working as a Head Chef in Moscow. I am excited about beginning a career here in the UK and working in new a environment, with new people, and learning new skills. Cooking is my passion, and I am always keen to expand my repertoire. I am precise and positive when I cook, and I have always enjoyed working as a team. I worked at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal before setting up my own company “DRABANI’, which is a global pop up super food feast.

Who inspires you in the kitchen?
I love to travel and the main inspiration for me is people from other cultures around the world. I enjoy learning about new experiences, flavours, ingredients and stories.

interview denis calmis

What part of creating a dish do you enjoy the most?
I love to watch people eating my food and looking at their happy faces.

Dinner at your local restaurant, do you order the usual, or try something new?
My diet is very simple and healthy. For example buckwheat, grilled chicken and cabbage.

Describe your signature dish?
One of my favourite desserts I create is from my childhood. The Smell of brewed fresh mint tea in the morning before school, the soft and porous roll with halva I had with my sister every Sunday and crunchy pineapple with vanilla ice cream I use to eat tons of. I have created one big cake with all my memories – Mint cake with layers of burned pineapple sponge and halva cream.

If you weren’t a chef, what would be your job title?

I would probably be a photographer.I just finished my Foundation in Photography course in Central Saint Martins and I am passionate about it. I started thinking about photography and began doing it by myself when I realised that I had ideas in my head that I couldn’t explain to other people using words. I like making art and photography is like been a chef without cooking.

interview denis calmis

Tell us about your biggest kitchen fail?

One day my earpiece had broken and I didn’t hear the that the guests had arrived and the Russian Borsh was served as a cold beetroot soup instead. It could have been a big disaster but nobody noticed

What was your favourite food memory?

In Bangkok every evening in front of the bank from 7pm a family opens a small restaurant and serves family style thai food -the best in town. And in the morning, nobody could see it was a restaurant the night before.

How do you play on the weekend?

At the weekend normally I start the day with yoga, running and a very full tasty breakfast.

What music are you listening to when you cook?
Normally I listen to indie pop or rock it depends on the mood.

What are you watching out of the kitchen?
I love scary dramas and I don’t like love stories.

What does your daily routine look like and what do you leave to chance?
Every day I start the morning with hot water with lemon juice and honey, Yoga, Feeding the fish and cooking

If money were no object, how would your life be different, in and out of the kitchen?
I would live on the beach with a small bar with a lot of dogs around, enjoying the sun and cooking with no pressure.

interview denis calmis

What excites you most about the future, as a chef and as a human?
I prefer to live in the present and every day becomes my future.

Where can we find you online?

You can find me online and in real life in London and also Instagram or use the Russian alphabet -Денис Калмыш.

CHEF INTERVIEWS || The Harlot Chef

An interview with The Harlot Chef

Interview Harlot Chef

Tell us about yourself
I just always had an act for it. Ever since I was A little boy I was drawn to the kitchen. I ended up making a career out of it because I liked that i got to express myself with food.

Who inspires you in the kitchen?
To be Honest, I have always been inspired by mom and pop restaurant. Those always seem to draw the biggest crowds and have a long self life.

Interview Harlot Chef

What part of creating a dish do you enjoy the most?
Most of the time when I am creating a dish. I actually don’t have a game plan, most of the time i am playing as I go. LOL

Dinner at your local restaurant, do you order the usual, or try something new?
If its a local place and I love the food. I will order the same thing. The only time I order something new is when I hit a restaurant or a town I Probably wont visit again.

Describe your signature dish?
I don’t Think I have one yet. There has never been a dish that defines me as a chef. Maybe me always being have naked in the kitchen is my signature?

If you weren’t a chef, what would be your job title?
I probably would have been an actor because my ass is always up in some storyline.

Interview Harlot Chef

Tell us about your biggest kitchen fail?
OOOOhhhhhhh man…… Probably when i burnt some couples wedding party food before the reception. i was not in my right head space that day.

What was your favourite food memory?
I wont have to say eating fish and chip out in Camden town on my first visit to london. It was my first time in europe and i didnt know any better.

How do you play on the weekend?
That is an open ended question hahahhahaa. It really depends on what time of year it is and how tone my body is. When I am on Plus size model mode. I will stay home, eat junk food and watching movies. If I am Skinny and fit, I am out being a single gay man and doing what we do best.

What music are you listening to when you cook?
Lana Del Rey all the way. No matter what mood I am in, She always gets me in the mood to Focus on what I am doing.

What are you watching out of the kitchen?
I cant watch Anything in the kitchen. It distracts me for what I am Doing and Frankly we cant waste anytime in the kitchen when its GO TIME.

What does your daily routine look like and what do you leave to chance?
I get up every morning make myself a pressed juice and coffee. I tend to work for an hour on my phone and answer emails and texts. Than its time for the gym and work. I really am not random when its a work day. On my day off than I tend to end up in another state or country hahahhahaha.

If money were no object, how would your life be different, in and out of the kitchen?
I would spend most of my time traveling without a doubt. I mean I would fit in work here and there but I for sure be on the road trying to find new ways to change up my way of living and creative outputs.

Interview Harlot Chef

What excites you most about the future, as a chef and as a human?
Success and The will to live is what excites me about the future. Life is not a sure thing so I always try to live in the moment and make the best out of everyday, even if I am having a Bad one. Another day of Life is something to be excited for……..The future is what keeps me going.

Where can we find you online?

Instagram

CHEF INTERVIEWS || A Dessert Bar

An interview with A Dessert Bar

Interview andrew sutton

Tell us about yourself
Everyone says “I want to do this or that” but for me, it really was like that. From a very young age, cooking was the one thing I did and felt instantly connected to it; it was not only about being able to show off my creativity but also my personality.

Who inspires you in the kitchen?
Anything and everything is an inspiration to me; but I would say that the main source would be from past experiences traveling/ eating/ or connections between people and the emotions they bring out in me. I don’t have that one chef who I want to emulate because for me it is about innovation not imitation.

interview andrew sutton

What part of creating a dish do you enjoy the most?
Being able to plan a dish so meticulously; researching the effects it’ll have on our guests, what emotions we wish to evoke and allowing them time to enjoy a moment of “perfection”.

Dinner at your local restaurant, do you order the usual, or try something new?
It depends on my mood. Everything I do in life is effected by that.

Describe your signature dish?
My signature dessert is: Parsnip – Coffee – Long Pepper The idea of this dessert came from eating a roast dinner, and I had a burnt parsnip. As soon as I tried it, it reminded me of parsnip but it also had the aroma of coffee being roasted. I combined them in a way that it looks like a dessert but eats like a savoury course. The combination of roasted parsnip ice cream, burnt long pepper and coffee caramel and caramelised pistachios is sublime.

If you weren’t a chef, what would be your job title?
A global concierge – the man who knows everyone in every city.

interview andrew sutton

Tell us about your biggest kitchen fail?
Well, this is embarrassing but I was working in a 2* restaurant in England; I was tasked with picking frisee salad, spent hours doing it and stuck it in the freezer instead of the fridge (facepalm moment)

What was your favourite food memory?
I was eating at a restaurant near Zurich, Switzerland – I was eating a smoked langoustine cooked in butter. It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever eaten.

How do you play on the weekend?
No two weekends are the same. Usually it involved running, catching up on admin from the week and a few drinks at a new bar in London – but that’s just work. I never switch off.

What music are you listening to when you cook?
Again, it goes back to my mood but usually if I want to be inspired then it’s RnB or Rap.

What are you watching out of the kitchen?
Massively into tv shows, best ones to relax to are Friends or Suits.

What does your daily routine look like and what do you leave to chance?
My days vary but I usually wake up, have breakfast, do a block of exercise and then plan the day. I work best at nights, which means I am usually only going to sleep at 2 – 3am.

If money were no object, how would your life be different, in and out of the kitchen?
I would travel. I would take my business and open up in different cities around the world all the time, never settling for longer than I need to. Working in that time with fashion brands/ alcohol brands and hotels to grow myself and my vision for the food industry. Two future dreams would be to set up a creative academy and to own my own alcohol brand.

interview andrew sutton

What excites you most about the future, as a chef and as a human?
The unknown. The natural approach to life, trying to never force an issue or wait for the perfect moment. To trust myself and whatever happens is meant to be.

Where can we find you online?
Web

Instagram

Picnic Popup

Just watch out for the bats 🦇

Sometimes the picnic basket is more important than the sous vide 🖤

Finding inspiration for my next series of popups in the caves of Iceland 🇮🇸🤩

picnic popup

Chocolate makeup

Makeup on the street = war paint in the kitchen ⚔

What did you do with your leftover Easter eggs? 🐰🍫👽 

chocolate makeup

Menu Surprise: Why You Should Never Order The Same Dish Twice

For menu surprise, I never order the the same dish twice no matter how magical the first bite. Even more than taste, when I sit down to a meal it’s surprise I seek.

menu surprise An economist by trade, I have a profound appreciation for the law of diminishing marginal returns, whereby the we extract maximum value from the first action we engage in, slightly less from the second actions, and so on until the value actually turns negative.

menu surprisemenu surprise

Like most things in life, I’m only able to understand complex theory and concepts through food. Imagine you are sitting down to a heaping tray of al pastor tacos hawked from a small stand in Oaxaca. You devour the first, second and third taco in a state of pure gluttonic bliss. The fourth and fifth take a little longer to get down, but THEY TASTE SO GOOD, so you ignore the slight discomfort around the belt. And then every taco after that becomes less about pleasure and more about an obligation to pay homage to the king of tacos. And finally, with a longing gaze at a the sacred plat, you finally accept that one more bite will lead to a less that glorious exit from Oaxaca.
When I experience food no matter the place, format or situation, I can’t forget the law of diminishing marginal returns. Because food for me is not just about taste, although there is NOTHING more important, it’s also about the surprise element that is inherent in the new and difficult to retain. This is why I believe the future of dining looks like the immersive food experiences I am building at EatWith and VizEat.
Whenever I eat, I go into the game with a mindset that it’s the first and last time I’ll be wielding my knife and fork to whatever is in front of me. With this take no prisoners approach, I squeeze maximum pleasure from the experience and savour the place, the presentation, the plate, and the entirety of the eating!
Menu Surprise
This immersion into my food means my memories are tinged with hot sauce and olive oil, as well as the unquantifiable element of surprise from the new and unknown. I’m always looking for menu surprise, so when I have the opportunity to order the same dish, expecting to replicate the past gastronomic highs, I know, deep down, that only disappointment awaits.
Because the value of menu surprise scores big on my palate and when I sit down in the same place for the second time, I’m always going to give up the guaranteed for the unknown, a new plate filled with dangerously exciting possibilities.
Food, people and ideas can always be improved on, iterating on the past and creating a better (and more delicious) future. Whether I’m in or out of the kitchen I’m experimenting – the best results made the cut in my latest cookbook. My gazpacho never has the same red hue, my hummus always creamier than the last, and my coffee is spiced with cardamom one day, cinnamon the next and every permutations richer that the last.
menu surprise
I’m not one to be tied to traditions, although Jose Andres taught me to always respect them, and that’s why I’m constantly experimenting and never settling for the tried and true, whether I’m cooking or eating.
Psychologist Paul Rozin offers this tip:
If you want to experience more pleasure before the meal, order something you have had before; you can access your memory of that pleasure. But if you want to create new memories – more pleasure in the future order something new.
menu surprise
For those who don’t want to risk a meal, stick to what you know and order your usual, but if menu surprise forms part of your experience, then choose the unfamiliar and ask the chef to bring you a plate of the unknown.

My Real Chef Hero In The Kitchen

In times like these where cynics rule and fake food is winning, we all need a real chef hero, and lately there is one guy wielding a sharp knife that keeps inspiring me, in and out of the kitchen.

Sure, Anthony Bourdain is every wanderlusting chef’s crush, traveling the world, eating and drinking like a rockstar, and providing a cultural immersion for the food-obsessed.

chef hero

And another real chef hero has to be the action man himself, Action Bronson. When a rapper starts cooking, eating and smoking his way through kitchens and restaurants around the world it’s hard not to want to turn your cab backwards, grow a beard and live vicariously through this real chef hero.

chef hero

But lately I’ve been drawn to another onion-chopping genius. The great Jose Andres is my real chef hero and commands respect in and out of the kitchen. From a commitment to his basic ideals in immigration and migrant rights, to his aspiration to save the world through food, to his authentic and creative vision and delivery of Spanish food in all its glory, and finally his mastery of the fried egg, the huevo frito!

But it’s in his latest incarnation, serving up Puerto Rico real food and real hope, when the USA failed to deliver, that makes him a real chef hero. After Hurricane Maria, he spent over a month in the region feeding some 2 million people and making the basics front and centre of the policy discussion. Look up #ChefsForPuertoRico and get inspired by the power of food, and those that cook it, to change the world.

real chef hero

If we all cooked with the joy for food, people and life that Jose Andres clearly has, then the world would would surely be a much more delicious place. He’s part of the reason I cook and live the way I do, following these 10 essential rules including his core belief:

“I believe in tradition and innovation, authenticity and passion.” || Jose Andres