When did you first get a passion for cooking?
From a young age I was always interested in cooking and baking cakes with my mum. I remember when I was doing my GCSE home economics, I was making pan roasted duck breasts with globe artichokes while the other kids where doing pizza and pasta bolognaise. So, I knew from then onwards where my life would be taking me… down the road of long unsociable hours with the heat of the kitchen and bad-tempered chefs. Although I’m glad to say that it has changed a lot during my time in professional kitchens for the better that is.
How did your professional career lead you to Brighton?
I started my career working in London fresh out of culinary school at the age of 18. Working for Mathew Fanthorpe in Bistro 2 in the OXO Tower and staying with him for five years in various restaurants in London from Mash in Oxford Street to The Wharf in Teddington.
Its during this time that I got the chance to work in Barbados over the Christmas periods with them in their hotel Lone Star. From there I went to work at Chez Bruce in Wandsworth - my first taste of Michelin star. Boy that was tough.
After that I got my chance to work as senior sous chef at The Zetter Hotels for Bruno Loubet at Bistro Bruno Loubet’s and Grain Store and being his head chef at Grain Store Unleashed, its where I really learnt how to cook and run a kitchen with Bruno, he taught me a great deal to do with balance of flavours and creativity.
This is also where I first met Jason Catifeoglou, the director of the group. After three years in Sydney, Australia upon my return I contacted Jason again, as he had become the director of My Hotels Group. Where I started at their hotel The Pilgrm in Paddington as head chef and shortly after making the move from London to Brighton and taking on My Brighton hotel’s Meanwhile Café.
Tell us a bit about the offering of Meanwhile Café.
Meanwhile is a place to come and relax enjoy great brunch dishes, homemade cakes, and amazing White Cloud coffee throughout the morning until late afternoon.
Then we turn into an atmospheric wine bar with small plates designed to share in the evening. I’ve always loved the way the Mediterranean’s eat their meals bringing friends and family together over the dinner table, from the tapas bars in Barcelona to the hearty full of flavour Greek cuisine. Then there’s the combination of spice from Levantine style of food which brings that extra bit of fun to every mouthful packed with flavour. This is why the menu is heavily influenced by this. The simplicity of the dishes while using the best produce available. This is something I look for when I’m out and about dining.
What’s your personal favourite dish on the Meanwhile Café menu?
My favourite dish to prepare and serve is the porchetta on the evening menu, which is also a guest favourite. Just a simple dish of local boned and rolled pork belly from our Steyning butcher where the free-range pigs are reared just outside the town. I season this with orange zest, fennel seeds and dried oregano. Slowly cooked at 150c for 2 hours and then 200c for 10 minutes to get an amazing crackling on it. I really enjoy using local produce from independent suppliers around Brighton, it doesn’t just benefit your health and the environment, but also helps the local farmers and community, you get a much better personal experience with them. The produce being local is also a lot fresher and tastes amazing.
Which local producers do you work with?
We use a variety of local suppliers from Curing Rebels for our charcuterie and smoked salmon, to Sussex Eggs and Brighton Sausage Company for our brekkies. The menu has a good selection of dishes to choose from, including vegan and vegetarian options which are growing in popularity. During my time at Grain Store is where I really grew to love heavily dependent dishes with vegetables as the star of the show, which is showcased here on the menu for both brunch and dinner. As time goes on and the menu continues to develop so you will see some more interesting and exciting things to come.
Are you offering any deals for January that Taste readers can enjoy?
During January 2023 we have unmissable offers including 50% off evening food on Thursdays when you book ahead. Every Friday and Saturday, get two small plates and a glass of wine for £20 between 5-7pm.
Meanwhile Café, 17 Jubilee Street Brighton BN1 1GE
01273 900 300 • www.meanwhilecafe.com