From designing new menus to overseeing special events like the Marylebone Summer Festival and charity dinners, Claud has a wealth of experience in some of the city’s finest establishments, including Roux at Parliament Square. Here he shares how he knew he wanted to be a chef from a young age, and how his experience growing up in the Caribbean shapes his approach to being a chef.
Tell us a little about yourself – did you always know you wanted to be a chef?
My uncle was a chef on a cruise ship – one day when I was 11, he took me on board to show me the kitchen. I knew then it was what I wanted to do, so I worked hard and applied myself in food tech lessons at school, completed my work experience in a kitchen and the head chef there told me he had a job for me as soon as I finished school! So I took on unpaid work at weekends too, as I wanted to learn as much as possible… when I graduated from school in July 1998 I started work straight away, and I’ve never looked back since.
Talk us through your approach to menu design – what do you think makes for a good menu?
I look at it from a creative perspective; I think the visual aspect is really important, as people eat with their eyes first. A dish needs to look good and be visually appealing, as well as taste nice – the colours, seasonality of your ingredients and sourcing from good suppliers are also really important considerations. Knowing your clientele and designing dishes you know they’ll enjoy is also a factor; I look at previous menus and best sellers and use that as inspiration.
For you, what’s the best thing about working here at Fischer’s?
My team – the people I have around me downstairs – they all want to be here; they’re all incredibly passionate and dedicated, which makes for a really positive working environment. It also makes my job much easier!
And what’s been your career highlight(s) so far?
Getting to do my stars during my time at Roux at Parliament Square – working with and learning from Michel Roux was an incredible experience. He’s very humble and taught me a lot. Also, while I was at Bluebird in Chelsea, I got to be part of the team competing in the World’s 50 Best Chefs, which was a real privilege.
If you had to pick just one dish from the Fischer’s menu, what would it be and why?
This is a really tough question, as all the dishes on our menu are unique and have their own identity. If I was in the mood for something sweet I would have to pick the Kaiserschmarrn as I think it embodies what Fischer’s is all about – it’s quite rustic and may not be the prettiest dish on the menu, but it’s authentically Austrian and leaves you satisfied. It’s very delicious!
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to work in the kitchen?
You need passion and dedication; if you don’t feel that passion for food and cooking, then it will drain you. It’s a very creative environment so you need to be able to give your energy to this process. But there are so many incredible opportunities in hospitality, so if you have that desire go for it as it will pay off, and you can go far.
And finally, when you’re not at Fischer’s where can we find you?
If I’m not with friends going out for dinner, you can find me at home turning our kitchen into a restaurant! I cook a lot of Caribbean food; grilled seafood is one of my specialties. I’m always creating and coming up with new ideas, and I often try these out on friends and family first…