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Dining Meudon 29 March 23 HI RES 95 19

2nd February 2024

A question of taste...Q&A with Restaurant Meudon Head Chef David Waters

David Waters has been running the kitchen at Restaurant Meudon since 2022 and, in challenging times for the hospitality industry, it’s fair to say he has thrived, creating seasonal menus that are quite simply incredible.

We asked David if we could corner him for a few minutes to answer some questions for us (he’s not an easy man to pin down!) and he kindly agreed!

Hi David, thank you for taking a moment to answer a few of our questions, we appreciate that the nature of your profession means that time is precious (we won’t keep you long…!). First of all, how was the festive period for you? For many it’s a time to relax with family, but in the hospitality industry it can mean extra pressure and long days.

It was busy but great! There was a lovely festive atmosphere in the hotel and the team did a brilliant job of making the place sparkly. I enjoy being busy and the whole kitchen team really put in a shift to make sure everything went a s smoothly as possible. There was a really nice, Christmassy feel to the hotel. I must admit, I also enjoyed taking a short break in January to recharge my batteries!

You recently appeared on stage at the Falmouth Oyster Festival carrying out cooking demonstrations (the results of which we sampled and were delicious by the way!). Is this something you have done before and are you comfortable talking and performing in front of an audience?

Thank you but, no, I have never demonstrated on a stage like that before! If you looked closely (which was actually possible due to the super-close, zoomed in cameras showing images on the big screen!) you would have noticed my hands shaking a lot at the beginning. Luckily I had my 2 boys and my partner in the front row for support and I managed to get comfortable quite quickly. In the end I really enjoyed it and, yes, the dishes received great reviews from all who sampled. I would definitely consider doing this again if the chance came up, I’ll know what to expect next time!

Meudon 24 May 23 HI RES 105

Fish and seafood are obviously a big part of your life and you clearly love working with these ingredients. What are your views on sustainability, and how much knowledge do you have regarding the produce that you cook with and where it comes from?

Yes I adore working with seafood and we have some of the best fish in the world on our doorstep. Of course, sustainability is a huge consideration that everyone in the food industry needs to have at the front of our minds at all times, overfishing today only hurts tomorrow. When I order fish for example I always opt for line caught where possible as this is a much less invasive and destructive fishing method, and the end product is generally of a much higher quality. I always seek out locally caught, high quality fish, such as MSC certified Hake from Newlyn which is sustainably caught, fresh and absolutely delicious.

The selection of equipment and tools are always important to people in skilled professions such as yours, and it comes down to personal preference as to what one chooses to work with. Do you own a piece of kitchen equipment or a utensil that you simply can’t imagine working without?

Yes my knife set is probably the most crucial piece of kitchen equipment for myself, an obvious answer but if all else fails you can almost do anything with a good, sharp knife. Things like thermomixers and rational combi ovens are fantastic pieces of game-changing equipment that most chefs would love to have access to, but essentially they only make things easier or quicker, a skilled chef can make most things well without these luxuries.

Sunday lunch - Restaurant Meudon

Do you like to watch TV cooking shows and if so do you have a personal favourite? Is there a celebrity chef that you would say has inspired or influenced you in your career?

I do enjoy watching cooking shows, these days there a lot of higher budget, beautifully filmed cooking series on Netflix, such as Chef’s Table and Street Food. I definitely find inspiration and different viewpoints from watching shows on TV and online, but I’d say I am most heavily influenced by my mentors such as Stewart Eddy and Nathan Outlaw. Other chefs that I also respect hugely and love the work of, are Valentine Warner, Jeremy Lee and Fergus Henderson.

When not working, do you tend to make meals that are quick and easy to eat at home? It would be understandable after long shifts preparing intricate dishes…what would you say is your go-to comfort meal at home?

My partner is from Thailand and we eat a lot of south east Asian food at home. I’d say my go-to, quick comfort food would be stir fried noodles.

What three pieces of advice would you give to a trainee, aspiring Head Chef that has ambitions to work in a high-end restaurant?

Respect your team

Stay professional (especially when it gets busy)

Your standards are your standards, whether you’re working in a fish and chip shop or a Michelin Star restaurant. Keep YOUR standards.

Is there a single, standout dish that you have eaten, anywhere in the world, that stopped you in your tracks and stayed in your memory?

Yes when I was a younger chef I was intrigued as to what the head chef was doing with some lamb kidneys. He sautéed them off, deglazed with white wine added a small amount of a lamb jus that we made earlier in the day, added some chiffonade mint and served them on a toasted piece of a rosemary bread loaf we had made, finishing by glazing the sauce over the top. To this day the flavours of this dish speak to me and what I like to represent with my creations, so simple yet full of flavour and character.

Working in a busy kitchen can undoubtedly be tiring. What is your favourite thing to do to unwind and relax after a busy shift?

I enjoy mountain biking. On days off you will probably find me riding my bike! It’s a great way to stay active and to clear my mind.

Produce from Cornwall is renowned for its quality, and everything from Cornish dairy products to fish, vegetables to meat and even beer, gin, wine and rum can now be found in shops and restaurants across the country. You are proud to use locally sourced ingredients such as these wherever possible, but what is one ingredient that must be sourced from further afield, that you would not like to be without?

Healthy Boy mushroom soy sauce. I could honestly drink the stuff! It’s an amazing product that is full of umami and it can be found in most Asian supermarkets. It is a product of Thailand and is just delicious.

I also have a soft spot for Colston Basset Stilton. We do have an abundance of great local cheese makers in Cornwall, and many are world class, but I will always stock up on Colston Bassett stilton when possible.

Do you enjoy working with trainees and apprentices? Do you feel that you have taken tips and teaching methods from your years learning the trade that you apply when coaching up-and-coming chefs?

I do greatly enjoy watching people develop themselves, and I like to think I pass down some useful tips and techniques that I was taught as an up-and-coming chef. The advice I would give to trainee chefs is to take on as much information as possible. Techniques in a kitchen are probably more important knowledge than memorising recipes.

Thanks again for your time David.

If you’ve yet to taste David’s wonderful creations, book your table at Restaurant Meudon and prepare to go on an exciting, culinary journey…

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