Flash-grilled: Shaulan Steenson

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Shaulan Steenson executive chef Temaki

Related tags: Shaulan Steenson, Temaki, Japanese cuisine, Brixton, Sushi

The executive chef of Brixton's Temaki on the importance of a sustainable approach and why there's nowhere to hide when it comes to sushi.

What was your first industry job?
Acorn Vegetarian Restaurant in Bath, working under head chef Jaek, who really made me understand that food is special.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do? 
Something environmental. We’re learning more and more that nature and good food go hand-in-hand. The most important thing for me is to support industries that allow nature to flourish. 

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
Douglas McMaster. He really changes the way even the best chefs cook food, after launching Silo as a zero waste restaurant. Goals!

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Clingfilm. It’s just an obnoxiously wasteful habit that chefs have, which didn’t exist but a few decades ago. 

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
I don’t really like to judge myself, so I’ll explain my answer. My head chef at Hakkoku (a sushi restaurant in Japan), Sato Hiroyuki told me: 'sushi is simple, it’s just fish and rice'. What he meant was that there’s nowhere to hide, so you have to go into fine detail and make it beautiful to make it special. Therefore, I try to make my food simple, honest and effervescent with a focus on the quality and purity of the ingredients used.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
My cousin a few weeks ago. No one can criticise you better than your family, because they know what you’re capable of. 

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Follow your passion.

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

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Whatever it is, It certainly wouldn’t be at a restaurant. I’d like to have some friends and family around me and maybe cook for everyone with a few great chefs that I’ve worked with. Jaek, Kei Sazawa, Roberto Teccolo, Douglas McMaster, Bryan O'Callaghan, Izumi Kimura, Sato Hiroyuki, Jun Saito, Endo Kazutoshi, Namae Shinobu. Maybe in the Cornish summer, by the seaside using only what’s around us. 

À la carte or tasting menu?
Tasting menu. It’s your food, you know what’s best. I also hate choosing.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
The 30-course sushi omakase at Hakkoku. 

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
There aren’t really any, but Tokyo Turnip at L’Effervescence is by far the most memorable and elegant dish I’ve ever eaten.

Most overrated food?
There isn’t overrated food, just food that’s been executed poorly.

What’s your earliest food memory? 
Cooking staff food at my parent’s shop. I was about six.

Tipple of choice?
To start; Mixed Fermentation IPA by Wild Beer. To follow; Matsumoto Shuhari nihonshu (sake). To finish; Islay whisky.

What do you consider your signature dish?
On this menu, it’s certainly the Akami Temaki. It’s not mine, but it’s special to me because it’s from Sato Hiroyuki. It’s simple and honest with a focus on the quality and purity of the ingredients used.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Chef

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