Flash-grilled: Kerth Gumbs

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Executive chef at Ormer Mayfair dancing, Great British Menu and what he thinks is the most overrated food

Related tags: Chef, Restaurant, Fine dining

The executive chef at Ormer Mayfair on his love of dancing, Great British Menu and what he thinks is the most overrated food.

What was your first industry job?
My first job was back home in Anguilla in the Caribbean – my best friend and I opened our own pizzeria at the age of 16.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I was heavily involved in track and field at school, so I would most likely be an athlete. I also love dancing, so that could be an option too!

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
There are a few restaurants and their chefs of whom I admire from a far such as Bjorn Frantzen of Restaurant Frantzen, and Grant Achatz of Restaurant Alinea, both places I would love to dine at someday.
Also, Julian O’Neill – he’s been a great mentor to me and definitely helped to shape my personality as a chef. I also greatly admire Tom Aikens for his energy, creativity and crafty style of food.

What's your pet hate in the kitchen?
When someone scratches the motor at the bottom of the vita-mix by not ensuring it’s fitted on correctly before starting to blend!

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
There once was a guest who praised me on the food she had just had. She said she was a vegetarian but loved the crab risotto… that was slightly confusing!

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
My style of cooking is driven by seasonal flavours, with vibrant and sometimes abstract presentations, which can give an arty feel.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Thankfully there hasn’t been any really bad ones. Sometimes I may see a customer review that doesn’t look too positive, but I always remind myself that it is down to personal preferences.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Be determined, set yourself for a strong mind and willing body – or a strong body and willing mind. Surround yourself by people with the best qualities. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the best chef, it can be a team or leader who will help to bring out the best in you. Don’t hesitate also to look over shoulders to learn as much as you can and whenever you can.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
I love my Vita-mix – a good blender is needed in my kitchen.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Goat curry, rice and peas with some johnny cakes on the side

À la carte or tasting menu?
Definitely a tasting menu

MasterChef or Great British Menu?
Great British Menu. This program has inspired me ever since I started my career, and I finally got the chance to compete in this year’s 2020 series and loved it!

Most overrated food?
Truffle. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great ingredient and certainly lends additional depth of flavour to certain dishes and sauces. However, at times it gets shaved over everything as a sellable factor.

What’s your earliest food memory?
Tasting cake batter from my mum’s rum cake mix, a taste that lasted 

Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram. I tend to use way more as I’ve only opened a Twitter account this year.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
If it’s a Saturday night after service, I don’t mind shaking a leg dancing in a nearby club. A trip to the cinema or a Thai massage helps too.

Tipple of choice?
I am not a big drinker, so I tend to choose cocktails or sparkling wines. I actually get laughed at when I order a Martini Rosso and Coke!

Related topics: People, Restaurant, Profiles, Chef

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