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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Executive chef John Serhal cooks up Royal treat at Origin Kensington launch

Chef John Serhal Origin

The new Origin Kensington restaurant at London’s Royal Garden Hotel showcased some of its top dishes at an official launch party last week, with executive chef John Serhal telling FEJ how its “incredibly well designed” kitchen helps attract top talent, and why teamwork and quality British produce are pivotal to menu design.

Chef Serhal has created a menu that features locally and nationally sourced ingredients, celebrating some of the best seasonal produce in Britain.

Some of the partners supplying the new restaurant include the favoured butcher of the Royal household, Aubrey Allen, as well as H. Forman & Son, which supplies London cured smoked salmon – a treat prepared for guests at the launch event.

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Chefs at the launch also served up the restaurant’s Boston rib, as well as a range of canapés, with desserts decorating a large stand.

The Goodwood Group, which owns the hotel and Origin Kensington, also runs the existing Min Jiang Asian restaurant on the top floor of the hotel, as well as a portfolio of restaurants and hotels in Singapore.

Chef Serhal said: “The kitchen equipment of course was all new to me when I started in January, but the kitchen was actually one of the draws for me for working here.

“The kitchen is incredibly well designed and set up in a way that helps the team work as efficiently as possible. Even having our pastry kitchen was really helpful in bringing in talent like our Head Pastry Chef Steph Eldridge.

“Over my time here I’ve also purchased new ovens and different pieces of equipment which has helped a lot. Training the team has certainly had its challenges, largely due to the troubles with recruitment at the moment, but with the team we have we are definitely heading in the right direction.”

He noted that the restaurant has a lot of young team members who are driven and keen to learn, and the opportunity to join “such a large hotel kitchen that even has its own pastry kitchen” fills them with excitement.

Origin Kensington will serve seasonal British food in a bright and comfortable space overlooking Kensington Gardens, with bookings now available.

The restaurant will provide a weekend jukebox brunch made up of small plates and complete with live music, as well as lunch and dinner menus.

Chef Serhal said: “It definitely feels like a massive transformation, especially as I only joined the hotel in January, when the restaurant was essentially a building site.

“It was great on the launch night to hear all the positive feedback about how the restaurant looks. We’re buzzed to have a new revamped, modern and sleek restaurant which we think will put us ahead of the local market.

“My favourite part was definitely being able to design the menu alongside all the other team members.

“It’s definitely not a one-man band here, everyone gets involved and all the meetings we held were a lot of fun. Once everyone understood what we’re trying to do with the concept, it was really exciting.

“The process to decide what would make the cut involved meeting with several suppliers and a lot of food tasting.”

Chef Serhal said that with the smoked salmon, he had to try about four or five different samples from across the country, but decided on H. Forman & Son due to its quality produce.

He added: “Similarly, why we went with Aubrey Allen was because they do supply the best meat, and of course being the preferred butcher to the Royals links into our own history.

“Using the best suppliers in Britain is at the heart of the concept and gives our restaurant its own provenance and heritage.”

Tags : chefsGoodwood GroupHotelsMin JiangOrigin Kensington
Joshua Walton

The author Joshua Walton

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