OLIVER DOVEY – FINALIST PRIZE DIARY – PART #4 – SIX SENSES ZIL PAYSON

Oliver Dovey

Six Senses Zil Payson, Seychelles – Diary 2017

Part 2

Day 13

Today is my first official day of holiday. Woop Woop!! I spent the time enjoying my swimming pool,six-senses eating in a lot of the restaurants. I was given a guided tour of the whole island including the private residences and the mountain experience where clientele can have a meal on the top of the mountain enjoying the beautiful sunset.

It was so relaxing and a break from normal day to day life as a chef, and without a doubt the most luxurious moments of my life to date.

 

Day 14

On my second day off I went to one of the private beaches, and enjoyed my time swimming in the sea. The whole cove was covered with baby sharks, so I spent the time swimming with these tiny sharks. It was a hidden cove which you can swim to around a large rock to get to, but it was secluded and very private. It was nice to enjoy the privacy.

I went and enjoyed the Thai night in the restaurant, with some of my friends serving and cooking for me.

Day 15

ratatouilleOn my final day off I went island hopping, going between the closest islands to Felicitie and just enjoying my time as a tourist. I went to some of the best beaches in the world with the clearest blue water and ash white sand. It was very surreal, something you would see on a postcard and an incredible thing to experience first hand.

I spent the entire day going between all the islands and when I got back to Felicitie I was exhausted. it was one of the best days I have ever had.

 

Day 16 Leaving

Today is a sad day; I started packing my whole room away, saying goodbye to all my friends and the people who have become very special to me whilst I was here.

It is an experience that I can never, and will never forget. I learned so much from Bordeaux to Seychelles, I worked in some amazing places with people who I know I will be in contact with for many years to come. I was invited back, and I have every intention to take them up on the offer, if not for a job but to see my friends and have such an amazing experience again.

When I got to the first airport I was delighted to see the Restaurant Manager there as he was leaving to go on holiday!! We enjoyed a plane trip together and the connecting flight for Abu Dhabi.

I will never forget the lessons, the experience or the people that Chef Stagiaire has provided me with and I hope to work closely with them during my career and when I get a restaurant of my own.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone involved.item_404_file1

OLIVER DOVEY – FINALIST PRIZE DIARY – PART #3 – SIX SENSES ZIL PAYSON

Oliver Dovey

Six Senses Zil Payson, Seychelles – Diary 2017

Part 1

Day 1 – Arrival

Today I landed in the Seychelles after 19 hours of travelling. I stopped off at London, Abu Dhabi, Mahe, Praline and then finally Six Senses. Landing in the Seychelles was magical, as I looked out of the window you could see how clear and blue the sea is.

I was picked up from the airport and driving to the port of Mahe island where I waited for my first boat. When I got to Praline I was quickly snapped up by the six senses team and put on their private speed boat to be taken to the hotel. When I arrived the executive chef and the general manager were waiting by the jetty to welcome me.

The Executive Chef Richard took me on a tour around the island. It is amazing not only the views, the sunsets and the nature but also what six senses has managed to do on the island. they are 95% self-sufficient, making their own drinking water, electricity, gas, they have their own recycling plant and they even produce their own bio fuel. I was taken up to my staff accommodation, as they were a general manager short I was given the executive’s staff accommodation, which was like a suit! it was at the top of the mountain, so I had an amazing view right across the island and out to sea.Oliver hard at work in the Seychelles

Day 2 – Sushi Night

So today was my first day in the kitchen. I was shown around meeting everyone and explained how it works. As it is a remote island the guests rely on us 100% for food. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, boat trips, parties anything they want they shall receive.

I was set to help their Sushi Chef with preparation for that evening as it was Sushi Night. I cannot count how many I made but I learnt how to make them one to one with a very experienced Chef. For service we set up on their chef’s table in the restaurant interacting with the customers and making fresh Sushi and Sashimi constantly. One customer asked if he could have a photo with both the chef and I, so we posed and then we went on to teach him how to make Sushi. It felt amazing using the knowledge I had only learnt hours ago to teach someone else how to do it.

Day 3 – BBQ night

Today in the evening a BBQ and movie night were planned for the customers. I spent the day going between the larder section where we made all the complex salads, to go with the BBQ. I worked on fish section breaking down the lobsters, shrimps and crabs as well as the meat section preparing dry-aged rib eyes, pork cutlets and lamb spiced lamb.

During the BBQ it was again set up outside next to the restaurant. the customers would come and ask for specific items which they would then pass to me (doing meat) and Billi (doing the fish) where we would marinade and cook to their liking

BuffetDay 4 – Tali

Today was the Tali night so i spent the whole day working on the Indian section making curry pastes, roti’s, sauces and drinks.

The dishes were mainly based on Bangladeshi cuisine which I have not experienced before so it was a whole new learning experiences talking and understanding their flavour combinations and how to balance the spices.

During the Tali service I was working on the main courses, cooking the assortment of curries, dahls, rice’s and sauces as well as making fresh poppadum’s.

Day 5 – Creole

Today I was working in the ocean kitchen in their creole restaurant. As I have never experienced traditional creole food it was a brand-new experience to me.scallops

How they prepared food, cooked it, presented it and even the flavour matching. They use local ingredients all farmed from that island or the surrounding islands, so it was a great experience working with food that was so fresh.

They caught me many tricks that I have never heard before which I shall be taking forward with me in my future career.

During services I was working between the starter and the main course which consisted of a palm heart salad with sweetened green mango, crevice of tuna. The main course was an octopus curry which was sweet and very citric or fresh fish BBQ.

Day 6

Today was my day off so I took the boat over to Praslin island with the sous chef, we went around the island taking me to beaches. we also went and visited the coco de mare tree which grows that largest nut in the world that can only be grown on this specific island. It was surrounded by police and guards as it is a popular place for poachers as each nut sells from £500 per unit, minimum.

Day 7 – Thai night

Today was one of the nights I was looking forward to the most as I have a great love for Thai cuisine as well as I have spent many summers there. I was working with their Thai chef.

We made all the food for that evening, Thai curries, salads, roasted rice powders, curry pastes for pad Thai and many more dishes.

I felt very comfortable on this section as I have cooked a lot of Thai food myself. The service was busier than usual, and we completely sold out on everything, with many compliments coming back to the kitchen.

Day 8 – Lobster Night

lobsterToday was their fine dining lobster tasting menu. It was based in ocean kitchen again with the creole chefs so everything with creole influenced. As I have spent my whole career in fine dining it was the most comfortable felt.

To start was a gazpacho of melon with dill oil. The second course was poached lobster wrapped in nori served with crispy nori, avocado croquette, lemongrass panna cotta and fresh pomegranate.

The next course was grilled lobster served with sweetened mango and coriander infused rice. The dessert was a chocolate fondant.

It was the style of food I was used to and the busy stressful service that I crave for.

Day 9 – Bakery

Today was my first day on the pastry section. I started early in the morning making the breads from fresh, shaping all of the breads and working with their signature sour dough.

I also made croissants and muffins from fresh for the breakfast. Next, I helped with the pastry preparation for that night, making the creme brulee, panna cottas and all the amenities for the rooms.

In the evening I helped with the services, making the fresh butter, cooking the breads and plating the desserts. I have a love hate relationship with pastry, when I do it for so long I hate it but when I don’t do it I love it and I miss it. So it was a great relief to do some pastry work!!

Day 10 – Pastry/Sushi Night

Today I was working with the pastry team. I made their ice creams and sorbets and the breads again during the day. They have such a talented team base, because it was coming to Halloween they had a pumpkin carving competition. The pastry sous chef is a competition winning cake chef so he was carving the pumpkin. He was working for 30 minutes on it and it was the best one I have ever seen. so detailed and obviously a very talented chef.

It was sushi night again, this time I was working with the pastry again plating all their desserts but when we had no orders I would run downstairs to help the sushi chef.

Day 11

Today is the start to my holiday, I packed my bags and I was picked up at 9 in the morning. I was brought straight to my room and told I am now a guest for the remaining time on the island. I was full board so I had everything for free and I could enjoy all of the facilities which was amazing!!

The room was massive, my own dressing room, a modern bathroom. my own private pool and dining area. I was given the sunset room, so I had the best view of the sunset as it sets between two islands on the horizon.

This afternoon I went to the national Seychelles fishing competition which was sponsored by the hotel. In total the hotel took 5 tonnes of the best fish, mainly consisting of Yellow fin tuna and massive red snappers. The experience was wonderful as it was only the executive chef and the butcher, we had to inspect each fish and made sure it met the standard required for the clientele

Day 12

Today was my last day working. as I was working in the afternoon I enjoyed a nice long sleep with an amazing breakfast. I spent some time in my pool and exploring a bit around the island.

In the afternoon I helped unload all of the fish that had be caught yesterday and we started the long process of filleting 5 tonnes of yellow fin tuna, kingfish, jobfish and red snapper. I have had quite a lot of experience on the fish section, so I was very comfortable, but it gave me a lot of time to hone and improve my skills.

In the evening I went down to the restaurant and enjoyed a nice meal while watching a film in the open-air cinema which they had. In the evening I went and joined my friends from within the hotel at the staff accommodations and we had a celebration of my last day working.

To be continued…

Oliver Dovey – Finalist Prize Diary – Part #2 – Les Sources de Caudalie

WEEK 2

Chef Stagiaire Award 2017 – Diary of my trip to Les Sources de Caudalie, Bordeaux

Day 1

caviarToday was my first day in the 2 Michelin star kitchen! I have to say I was a bit daunted, but from what I saw last week I thought I could hold my own in there. I was put on the garnish section with Lawrence. I helped him with general preparation including their vegetarian tart which consisted of thinly sliced courgette and tomato arranged in a flower fashion. It was a time consuming process but a really beautiful look on the final dish. The service was very hard, even though they did not have a high number of customers, it was still a new menu to me, and again obviously, everyone was speaking French, but I was getting better at understanding and translating everything into my tasks.

Day 2

Today I was working on the garnish section again. The chef started to develop a new dish for the menu which included a duxelle made entirely from Cep mushrooms. Being from England I have not seen thistartar many Ceps in one place as they are so expensive!! I made a ravioli with this duxelle, with a lovely Chicken jus inside so when it was cut open the liquid oozed out. The service was a lot better today as I managed to link a lot of words with words that I learnt while I was working in Greece. A lot of the names of the courses were very similar in Greek as in French so as soon as I picked that up I found the service a lot easier and smoother.

Day 3

Today I work on the larder section, preparing Lobsters and making their green Tomato granite. I also prepared a few Crabs and the Canapes. I helped prepare the stuffed Courgette flowers which were filled with a Langoustine mousse which was deliciously smooth. During the service I was working on the Canape section, serving Oysters with a cucumber foam and Oyster leaf, a brown cap mushroom filled with Ceps and covered in a Parmesan crust which was then lightly grilled. The second round of Canapes that the guests enjoyed was a Beef tartar which was smoked and sent to the table in a glass dome for theatrical effect, which really worked.

Day 4

Larder again today. I felt a lot more confidence now. I was doing similar preparation as the day before.ARTICHOKES Today I also helped prepare their angry egg dish which was a soft boiled duck egg which was then pannéd using thinly cut filo pastry so when it was fried it came up and gave an amazing visual aspect. I also stuffing their baby Artichokes which was another Canape. It was a very time consuming job because turning and cooking the artichokes took a while. Then the centre had to be scooped out, filled with crushed artichokes and then pannéd using green bread crumbs [speak to a chef about how to make green bread crumbs!!]. During service I was moving between the garnish section and the Canapes, helping cook the egg and artichoke dish.

Day 5

Today a new dish came onto the menu which included Venison and the Cep pasta. I helped make the Ravioli for the lunch and dinner service. I was doing general jobs for all sections today. I made some more tarts, prepared the Leeks for the Turbot dish, sources de caudalieI prepared a lot of shellfish. During the service I was helping every section, moving everywhere. It felt so smooth and I could feel a massive improvement in myself firstly for understanding the language and also for reading the situation and knowing which dishes were up next on the list of priorities. I was very sad to leave because I thoroughly enjoyed my whole experience here. It is a memory that I will genuinely cherish. I was invited to go back and work whenever I want which I have every intention to take up whenever possible.

It was an amazing learning experience, I loved the creativity and overall the kitchens here are a perfect working environment. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all at Les Sources de Caudalie.

Oliver Dovey – Finalist Prize Diary – Part #1 – Les Sources de Caudalie

WEEK 1

Chef Stagiaire Award 2017 – Diary of my trip to Les Sources de Caudalie, Bordeaux

Day 1

Finally, the day is here and im on my way to  one of the best Restaurants in Europe!! ‘Excited’ does not even come close to describing it!

I began my work in the Brasserie restaurant within thePASTRY hotel. I suspect the Executive Chef wanted to test me and see what skill level is was at before immersing me in the Michelin awarded kitchen. I spent the day preparing the meat and garnish section. During service I was assisting the garnish section and trying to learn as much as possible about the dishes on the menu. You could really see the classical French cookery in the food that they produce in the brasserie. The food is simple but because of the quality of the ingredients and the sheer passion, the flavour they extract is astounding. I can really see a difference in the quality of produce that they get in Bordeaux, they are much more flavourful and very fresh. I struggled a bit because of the language barrier but happily there are a couple of people in the kitchen who speak fluent English that can help translate.

Day 2

Today in the Brasserie we prepared for 30 covers at lunch. I was trusted to do the garnish section by myself! Quite and honour. I made the purees, soups and pasta for the menu as well as preparing some for the following day. Even though it was relatively quiet, it was quite hard as everything is read in French so someone has to translate all of the time. But my French has definitely improved over the last 24 hours!

squidDay 3

Today I mainly spent the day doing preparation for all sections. I was filleting and pin boning all of the fish they use in the brasserie, stuffing the chickens with a beautiful olive mousse, French trimming 30 lamb racks and portioning them. I spent some time today watching how the Gastronomy kitchen prepare, cook and plate most dishes so when I join them next week i’ll have an idea on the methods and techniques. Even though the fine dining kitchen can only do 14 tables, around 40 covers in total, they have a huge brigade of Chefs to control every element of the service and preparation. It was interesting seeing how they can all change easily between sections. It is obvious that all of the chefs that work there have deep experience and knowledge of every single section. From an onlooker it is almost impossible to see the chefs transitioning between the sections, they don’t really communicate verbally, its almost as if they can read each others minds! Stunning display of teamwork and a joy to watch.

Day 4

ratatouilleToday I was back on the Brasserie Garnish by myself, which was great to be involved so soon after arriving. I was responsible for all the mise en place and service, completely un-aided. I think the Chefs are very happy with my progress in such a short time. It was very busy both at lunch and dinner doing around 200 covers combined. This was significantly more than i had experienced the day before when i was on the section, so it was a bit of a shock, but I got through it successfully [i hope!]. Even though it was busy it remained a calm and organised kitchen, because everyone knew what they were doing and I could understand every ticket they read out in French. Being put in the situation where you have to learn the language to understand is tricky, but i was very satisfied. Day by day I am learning more and more. They had a special today of Iberico Ham Risotto with seared Courgettes. As I was on the garnish section all the components came from my section, but I was confident with this, as I have a lot experience with Risotto back in the UK. Overall this was a great day and I’m very happy with my performance at this level.

Day 5

lobsterAs it is Friday it was super busy in the Brasserie and we did between 250 and 300 covers for both lunch and dinner. I am very grateful for my early training at Westminster Kingsway College because as we were taught classical French cookery, and we always worked using the French terminology. Still, there are some terms I’m not familiar with and it can take 4 or 5 attempts for me to understand! Today was my last day in the brasserie and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is completely different cooking as I am used to but an amazing learning experience. Next week I start in the Fine dining kitchen where I hope i will feel more at home due to my experience in the UK. The special today was Pigeon which I butchered and prepared. I put the legs to confit, kept the breasts on the crown and with the offal I made a mousseline to be spread over a croute and grilled. It was served with seared oyster mushrooms and slow pan roasted micro potatoes. Lovely!

Oliver Dovey – Diary of Final 2017 at Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms

Oliver Dovey

2017 Final Diary at Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms

Day 1

Today was a challenging day as it was the first day at Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms. I had to learn the layout of the kitchen, the people and all of the menu, off by heart, as fast as possible. I worked in the preparation kitchen for most of the day but my highlight was moving over to work in the Nucleus restaurant. There was just Leon (Jr Sous Chef) and myself cooking and plating the dishes for the customers. It was a very interactive restaurant because as we were cooking the customers were asking us questions about the dishes and our experience too. I could see how the customers reacted to each dish and hear the excitement in their voices while they spoke about them. It was the best place for me to start as it gave me time to learn the whole menu in depth, from the preparation to cooking and then plating.

Day 2

Today was amazing, I spent most of the time in the hot kitchen doing preparation in the morning and in the evening I was working with the larder, plating all of their dishes, mainly the Chicken Meusli, Potatoes roasted in the wood fire oven and the Veal Sweetbreads. My favourite dish was definitely the Chicken Meusli as it was an amazing balance between sweet, sour, hot and warm.

Wood Fired Oven

Wood Fired Oven

Day 3

Today I spent the morning in Pastry, I made the milk Crisp for their Milk dessert. I also made their Chocolate Marquis dessert, from start to finish. They had a lot of trust in me and let me do a great deal during preparation. They gave me everything to taste but their truly exceptional dish was their conclusion of Green Thai Curry and Candy floss. It was absolute perfection in the balance of all 5 tastes. In the evening I was in the hot kitchen as it was very busy. I was plating their Beef Tartar dish as well as the others from yesterday. They also had a new dish for their chefs table, which is amazing watching how new dishes come about in Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms.

Day 4

Today was by far the best day! I spent all day moving between each section doing jobs that I picked up during the week but with more speed and skill. When it came to the cook off, I was not sure of the result, it was very nerve wracking to show Sat and John your own style of cooking, there was a lot more pressure than I thought I was going to feel but overall I am happy with my final dish.

Olivers Final presentation of his original entry dish

Olivers Final presentation of his original entry dish

John said the dish was lovely and the Duck was cooked on point which I was very relieved at as I thought it was slightly over cooked 🙂

In the evening I was helping pastry at the beginning. I was helping plate Sat Bains well known Duck Egg dish. It was incredible to see the effort.

Then after I moved over to work in the Nucleus again as they had a very busy service in there. the customers were very friendly and chatty towards myself and Leon (Sous Chef). They were absolutely blown away by the conclusion that I ate yesterday. It was a great pleasure to watch the customers fall in love with the food and knowing the hours and hard work it was really worth it!!!! It was a slightly sad ending as I really did not want to leave. They welcomed me as a family member and it truly touched my heart how nice everyone was towards me. I want to thank the whole team for the experience they have given me this week.

Harvey Perttola – Diary of 2017 Final at Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms

Harvey Perttola

Diary of the 2017 Final experience at Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms

Day 1

Arrived at 8:30 and was greeted warmly by Head Chef John Freeman. He took me into the kitchen and introduced me to everyone and I was shown around by one of the brigade. I also met Sat Bains which I was really a highlight. I was made to feel at ease.

I was put on the garnish section for the day with a chef called Phil from Dublin. I did jobs for him throughout the day these were cauliflower florets, picked melon, kale crisps, kale puree, smoked squash puree, and other bits and bobs like vac packing etc… I felt like i performed well and did everything that was asked of me.

During service I was helping send starters from larder 1 and larder 2 sections. I was helping plate up the dishes like the Chicken Liver Nitro Meusli and roasted Potato dish. I was amazed by how flavour driven the dishes were, yes they looked good but without the foundations of good produce and maximum flavour there would be no soul.

Plating up

Finishing touches – Head Chef John Freeman

During service chef Sat Bains asked me about Hampton manor, the food style and the ethos etc… i was happy he was interested and it got me thinking about the things i could take from here and implement back at the Manor for example the garden is rife with fresh herbs from the glasshouse, literally from garden to plate, snipped to order. Fresh as! I tried a few things to, i had some coal mayonnaise which just blew my mind and just had to get the recipe, it was epic.. Ill definitely be using that sometime. I really enjoyed my first day.

Day 2

My second day was as enjoyable and more immersive as the first day. I was in the prep kitchen with chef Paulo formally of the Waterside Inn, Bray. It was good to see the backbone to what gets served up i.e seeing the sauces being made with such care and attention. The way the Pigeon was handled was first class, just pure respect for the produce.

I did jobs throughout the day these where cracking grouse bones for sauce, flaking down confit pigeon legs, dicing beef for tartare, flaking down confit hare legs, separating the thigh meat from the bone of grouse legs, and other elements.

During service I was in the Pastry section and it was awesome. I got to try loads of elements and even whole dishes. I was blown away yet again this time by the Milk dessert. It was stunning, packed a punch but as you ate it, you finished off with a clean palate from the milk ice cream. Superbly balanced. Also the chocolate just blew my taste buds out of the water. It had a 12 year aged balsamic vinegar that was so intense and so aged it almost had a brandy taste to it, deep and delicious. I helped out plating up throughout the night and felt like i was part of the team. Roll on tomorrow!

Day 3

Today i helped Phil on the Garnish. I made kale puree, kale crisps and shelled broad beans. Also i made carrot puree. In the evening i was in the development kitchen known as Nucleus. This is where they do a menu with things that are being experimented with. It was epic; we did a table of four and we served and cooked the food. It is a real immersive experience and you get to have a lot of conversation with the guests who were amazed and wanted to know more about the product and the whole process. It was really nice to see that kind of interaction. It was also great to see all the different experiments that were going on with the flavour combinations. Even though it is a development kitchen where the dishes are tested and trialled, it still managed to have that focus and edge, the same as you’d have if you where dining in the restaurant. Brilliant.

Day 4

I helped out in the main kitchen and cooked my dish. I was pleased with my dish, everything was tasty and the feedback was positive. My fingers are crossed to see what happens, hopefully I’ve done enough, not just with the dish, but overall throughout the week. I have gained a lot of new techniques and methods and it was amazing to see such a high standard. These memories will be with me for the rest of my career and will help me develop into the best chef I can be.

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