Fernando Stovell, Head Chef at the Cuckoo Club in the West End of London, lays out his armoury of essential tools for the kitchen
Fernando Stovell worked for four years in the Wellington Club in London before moving to the Cuckoo Club in 2006. Creating contemporary European food for the 70-cover restaurant, Stovell has an à la carte menu, a set menu and is about to introduce a tasting menu inspite of his tiny kitchen.
His food is about seasonality, good ingredients and the "deconstruction of classical food"; his kitchen is about making the most of the limited space and doing justice to produce that's sourced from over 40 suppliers.
1 CIRCULATOR "The beauty of a circulator is that it cooks perfectly evenly, to an exact temperature.
Flavours marinate and combine, especially if you Vacupack things first. We do it with, amongst other things, fish and sauce. The flavours concentrate and you give the food a slightly longer shelf life.
The circulator and vacupac also help in terms of space and speed during service: as soon as an order comes in we can begin getting the starter out, and the main course can be put on and left to look after itself."
fisher.co.uk vacupack.com.au 2 SILVER SPOONS "I have two silver spoons that are always on me in the kitchen. They're pointed at the end, which helps me to plate up sauces and dishes neatly. The other thing about good quality silver spoons is that they don't distort flavours in the mouth, and I like to try everything I'm cooking.
Silver has a much cleaner taste.
I call them the magic spoons, and have had the same ones for ten years."
3 IPOD "Music is like food: both are emotional and really evocative.
I think the mood of the day is a very important factor in the kitchen, so all the chefs here have playlists on my iPod. We always listen to something during prep – when you spend more time in the kitchen than you do at home, it's good to have everybody enjoying it. We turn it off during service, though, to concentrate."
apple.com 4 MORTAR & PESTLE "This identifies what we do in the kitchen.
It's about using fresh produce and getting the best out of it. We use a pestle and mortar to pound pepper two or three times a week, this brings more earthiness to the mouth than you would get using a grinder, and we do all our seasoning in the kitchen with no mills on tables. It's the best thing to use to make guacamole, and for me it's a bit nostalgic and they're used widely in Mexico."
5 SMOKERS "I really want to get more into smoking things ourselves, and I've just Fernando Stovell worked for four years brought one back from New Zealand. I don't think home smoking is that commonly done here, and I'm a big fan of smoked food. The first time I tried smoked mussels I had 36 in one go. As a chef I like to do everything I can myself – eventually I hope to be doing butter, fish and meat.
I'm experimenting at the moment and I'm trying to find tea tree wood to use, or Jack Daniel's barrels."
6 PLATES "An integral part of a nice, elegant restaurant is the plates.
I use Pillivuyt; I like the style and the variation they have in their range. It's so important to have good crockery. With the Pillivuyt I use it's really obvious if there is a finger mark on there, so we know they have to be spotlessly clean. All our plates are polished with malt vinegar every day. It's a bit of a war cry in the kitchen: if during service I yell ‘vinegar' they know to give me the squeezy bottle we keep in the kitchen."
chomette.co.uk The Cuckoo Club, Swallow Street, London W1.
020 7287 4300 thecuckooclub.com