The Grand’s executive chef Alan White talks to Daniel White about life at GB1.
How did you get in to cooking?
The first TV programme I ever saw on Channel 4 was called ‘Take Six Cooks’ and it was all the serious, old-fashioned chefs and there was no silliness, it was a proper cooking programme. Seeing professional chefs do that sort of thing was really the inspiration that kicked it all off.
Where did you train?
I went to college in Nuneaton, which is in Warwickshire.
What was the most valuable lesson you learnt?
To listen. To listen and get it right, first time.
How does working at The Grand compare previous jobs?
When I started at college in Warwickshire I actually did my work experience at St Catherine’s Lodge in Hove, which was a hotel in 1985. I used to come back from a night out, after a few sherbets, and look at The Grand and think ‘I’ll be the chef there one day’. So it’s ticked one of my career boxes but having achieved that it’s been really good having full command of what that restaurant needed to be and specifically with the food; how it was going to look, what we were going to serve it on. It’s a valuable chance to learn about how to put together and develop a restaurant and more importantly for it to be successful.
So was it like fulfilling a dream working at The Grand?
Yeah it’s a dream completed, so it’s like living the dream now.
What would you say has been your best culinary idea?
We did a dish for a competition the other day which was a beetroot ice cream and that’s gone down really well.
Do you have a favourite Christmas dish?
We do a turkey ballotine where we stuff the turkey legs, which is nice because you’ve got the meat and stuffing, parma ham, spinach and cranberry.
Do you use a lot of local produce in your food?
Yeah we try to source all our ingredients as locally as we can, all our fish is local and we also have a local veg supplier. The quality of fish is obviously important so we get it from the fish stand down by Hove Lagoon.
What is the one tool you can’t do without in the kitchen?
A spoon, for tasting things. To be able to taste what everyone is cooking and make sure it tastes right is one of the most important things.
If you could give three tips to budding chefs what would they be?
“One is definitely to learn your trade, concentrate on what you’re being taught and apply it. Another is to have a set goal, for example, if you want to work in five star hotels make sure that’s what you do, have a focus on it. The final one would be to make sure you taste everything.