Bray, England, United Kingdom

Hinds Head head chef, Janos

Just because the kitchen isn’t bound by tradition, however, doesn’t mean the head chef, János is going down the modernist route, or putting dishes on the menu for the sake of it.
26 Mar

Hinds Head head chef, Janos

Just because the kitchen isn’t bound by tradition, however, doesn’t mean the head chef, János is going down the modernist route, or putting dishes on the menu for the sake of it. One of his favourite dishes at The Hinds Head is an homage to the pub’s history as an inn. ‘Old inns and ale houses always used to serve something called beef a la mode, which was basically braised beef with potatoes and whatever vegetables were available and would fit in the pot,’ he explains. ‘So we created a beef cheek a la mode, flavoured with mace, a very traditional British spice. Oysters were sometimes included too, so we added some oyster leaf as well, and finished off the dish with some crispy beef tendons to contrast with the rich, unctuous cheek. It all comes together as a very earthy, original dish, which has its roots in the history of the building.

One thing The Hinds Head does have in common with the rest of the restaurants under The Fat Duck Group’s umbrella is the amount of time and effort that goes into every aspect of every dish. Even the seemingly simple choices, such as lamb tongue on toast with smoked anchovies and capers, took a couple of years to perfect. The pea and ham soup requires a raw pea purée, ham hock stock, sous vide Alsace bacon, shredded ham hock, fresh peas, mint oil and Alsace bacon dripping. Each Scotch egg must be exactly the same and made fresh every day; a fiddly and labour-intensive process that took the team years to master for what is, essentially, a bar snack. ‘We sell about 10,000 Scotch eggs every year,’ says János. ‘There are so many points at which the process can go wrong, and while we still have the occasional mishap the system we have today keeps things consistent.’

You have to really love what you do to be a part of The Fat Duck Group,’ explains János. ‘It’s not an easy trade – I came in today at 8am and I’m going home at midnight. But that’s just what’s needed to be cooking at this level. You need to have passion, consistency and the drive to make everything better before you even come here, and then the ethos of the group – to question everything and strive for perfection – takes you to new heights. It’s no use being able to get everything right for a day, a week or a month; you need to nail it for years and years without ever slipping up, and that’s hard. I’ve been here for six years now, and to stay that long in one place is hard to find in the cheffing world. But The Fat Duck Group looks after me, and to have access to everything it offers is such a fantastic opportunity for any chef or front of house. The dedication to amazing food filters right down to the little details, and there’s nowhere else in the world like it.

 

Tom Shingler. (2017, February 17). Teamwork, consistency and Scotch eggs: The Hinds Head]. Retrieved from http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/features/the-hinds-head-heston-blumenthal

 

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