Flash-grilled: Kimberley Hernandez

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled with The Silver Birch head chef Kimberley Hernandez formerly at XU in London’s Chinatown and Kym’s in the City

Related tags: Chef, Restaurant, London, Fine dining

Chef Kimberley Hernandez, who previously oversaw the stoves at XU in London’s Chinatown and Kym’s in the City, now heads up the kitchen of Chiswick's recently opened The Silver Birch.

What was your first industry job?
Baker’s assistant at my childhood local bakery and café in the Northern Virginia/DC area.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
Copywriting or computer coding.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
My husband, Joni Ketonen, who is head chef at Eldr at Pantechnicon. When we do get time to spend together we have pretty fantastic conversations about flavours, food, drinks, design and art that makes me want to experiment back in the kitchen.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Mess, I can’t stand it.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you? 
That I  “can cook like one of the guys”.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
In pursuit of flavour.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
That I "wasn’t Asian enough" to cook Asian food.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
It’s a privilege to pursue something your passionate about, make it count and have fun.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My knives.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
This is hard as the answer for me changes each year, this year it’s: pancit palabok (Filipino noodle dish); ye’messer wot (Ethiopian spicy lentil braise); and a Canadian butter tart.

À la carte or tasting menu?
Both.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?  
The chef's table meal at Brooklyn Fare. I couldn’t believe how amazing it was, I still think about it almost weekly five years later.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Xiao long bao - they’re just the perfect little bundles.

What’s your earliest food memory?
Lechon; pancit palabok; and turon (a Filipino dessert that's like a sweet banana spring roll).

Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram.

Tipple of choice?
Pint of Guinness or a ramos gin fizz.

Related topics: Restaurant, Chef, People, Profiles

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