LM: How often does the menu change, and are some dishes staples?
RC: We change the menu seasonally to make sure that we reflect the tastes and dishes that feel right for our diners during the season. In addition, our market fish allows us to offer the best of what is available throughout the week. Seasonality is crucially important to us to make sure that we have the best flavours that enhance the dining experience. So you could come to the restaurant every week and find something new on the menu.
LM: Has the restaurant won any awards in the past?
RC: The Hyperion Restaurant, which was here before, held an AA Rosette for over 15 years and we plan to invite accreditors back to experience the Acanthus in the future. The level of technicality in our menu and the emphasis on seasonality puts us in prime position to achieve an AA Rosette, if not two.
LM: How frantic can it get in the kitchen when the restaurant is full?
RC: While it is never really ‘frantic’, the pace definitely speeds up at the weekend when we regularly cater to around 100-120 diners a night. We need to be organised, stay calm, stay focused to ensure every single one of our diners are happy with the food and service we provide. We all work as a team.
LM: Ramneek, tell us a bit about your own background career history and how you started in the industry.
RC: I come from a very foodie family – my mum and grandmother are both fantastic cooks and they taught me a lot. Eventually a hobby became a career and I began studying at the Institute of Hotel Management in Bangalore, India, where I learnt the basics of professional cooking. After starting my career with Taj Hotels & Resorts, I decided to travel to the UK and initially worked with the Marriot Hotel Group. Following this, I took up a position as head chef at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Reading before joining Macdonald Hotels & Resorts in 2016.
LM: Wow, that’s an impressive career so far. You have literally tasted and created hundreds of dishes, but do you have a personal favourite dish?
RC: Oh yes, I get to taste so much food and I get inspired all the time as a result. But I do have a favourite dish and that is one down to my mother Rajma Chawal. She cooks stewed kidney beans with steamed rice and it has always been my favourite. I could eat that dish all the time, it is seriously that good.
LM: What advice would you give someone who is thinking of working in an award-winning restaurant?
RC: You have to be passionate and don’t be afraid to put in the hours. By taking time to learn the basic skills and understand ingredients, success will follow. Follow your heart and you can do anything you set your mind to.
Macdonald Berystede Hotel & Spa – Where and How?
By Sabi Phagura