Milestones in our Lives

Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler described songs as "milestones in our lives". I think he is on to something. If I want to cast my mind back to a happier, or perhaps more melancholy time, I will put on a certain album that reminds me of that moment in my life.

I think it's also true of dishes we cook. Especially if you are a chef. As you move from one influence to another, from one job to another or one country to another, there are certain dishes that become bookmarks in our culinary life. The question is, what sort of menu would they make up today?

Kilroy's Lemon Tart
Anton Mosimann's Bread and Butter Pudding will be a dish that had the most indelible mark on my career and as a result I have a real love/hate relationship with it. On one hand, it opened my eyes to a new way of cooking traditional classics and through it's popularity, I got to travel around the world making it for some very special occasions. On the other hand I made so much of it that today I would have to be super-hungry to eat even a spoonful.

Kilroy's Lemon Tart became my signature dessert over a two year stint in Bermuda where I made about 5000 portions by hand on a Formica table that I hope I never have to see again. And setting up in Nepal allowed me to develop Seared Chicken Breast stuffed with Nak's Cheese (- yes the spelling is correct: if you’re thinking the milk came from a yak, it's worth bearing in mind that a yak is male) and remains the signature dish in our restaurant to this day.

Dessert 'Wizard of Oz'
Thinking back to some of the life-changing milestones in my life's map of discovery, I fondly remember suchdishes as Sauerkraut in St. Moritz or Thukpa in Tengboche or Sel Roti in Sikkim. Which make me think that perhaps the greatest thing about cooking is that the act of doing so - with it's aromas, textures and flavours - will take you right back to that place or moment in time you want to experience again. Like listening to a song.

More importantly, this allows you to ‘emotionally connect’ with your guest in a very fundamental way, either by sharing with them YOUR experiences through a carefully crafted menu or by allowing them to create new milestones for themselves by putting them in a great atmosphere, where the service and food will be immortalised in their future memories and reminiscences.