Andrew Turner, Executive Chef at Hotel Café Royal, one of Britain’s CoolBrands®, is well known for his unique approach to cooking, bringing a whole heap of new and innovative concepts into the kitchen.
Rob Kirby, Chef Director at Lexington, went to the luxury 5 Star Hotel, in Mayfair, to catch up with Andrew. Here they discuss how to stay competitive, how to stay close to customers and how technology is changing the way we work.
Rob: Hotel Café Royal is such a beautiful space – do you use it to inspire your menu?
Andrew: The space is fabulous but it’s our guests who inspire the menu and influence our offering. We listen to our guests and look at what’s coming back on the plate. What do they like? Have we got the portion control right? It’s about connecting with our customers.
R: How do you ensure your dishes keep guests wanting to come back for more?
A: Customers love us because we are unique, we constantly offer something new and we move quickly. The Domino Effect enables us to do this by showcasing a series of international guest chef collaborations – it’s like a pop up restaurant. We recently had Paco Roncero, the two starred Michelin chef behind the world’s most expensive restaurant, bringing his Spanish avant-garde food to London — at a fraction of the cost. Using such famous chefs enables us to build hype on social media and attract new customers.
R: Tell us about your Bring Your Own Ingredient
A: This started with the thought: Wouldn’t it be great to cook exactly what our guests want – bring your own food. It’s a simple concept, guests email us with the ingredients 48 hours in advance and we turn this into a gourmet feast. It’s such a great opportunity to get to know our guests better, have a bit of fun with them and talk through what we’ve created. It brings a more personal touch to dining – the anticipation creates real excitement and the whole process makes a more powerful and
memorable experience for our guests.
R: There seems to be a move towards more technology in the kitchen. What do you make of that?
A: We were the first people in the world to have interactive iPad between the kitchen and the chef’s office and we are looking at using an electronic ordering system, whereby our waiters and waitresses have a small handheld device, which will communicate with a printer in the kitchen. When an order is taken seconds later it is printed out to the chef.
Technology is revolutionising the way we work and can enable us to work much more smartly which will help improve service and reduce waste. There is a huge opportunity for us to provide better service to customers, offer more information about when the food will be ready but also more information about things like allergens. Technology will never dilute the fundamental part of cooking. It will simply give us the opportunity to be more accurate when it comes to getting from a to b and it is vital for the day-to-day running of the kitchen.
R: As a chef I know picking one dish is hard but tell us about your favourite…
A: Anything to do with hand-dived scallops and the old classical way of cooking them. Think persuasion style – champagne, truffles and mash potato.