Flash-grilled: Regis Cursan

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled: Regis Cursan Nobu London's executive pastry chef

Related tags: Chef, Pastry chef, Nobu, London

Nobu London's executive pastry chef on his problem with 'posh' doughnuts, and why reading about the history of food is crucial for any chef starting out in the industry.

What was your first industry job?
My first job in hospitality was working at a pastry shop in Périgueux in France. I was 21, had just finished my apprenticeship, and I was in charge of making different types of mousse and cakes for the shop to sell.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I would have gone into the gold or mining sectors. I find it really fascinating and spend my spare time mud larking and combing beaches.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Ramon Morató. He’s an amazing technician and master of his craft. He’s also very humble.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
A messy kitchen! I always tidy up as I go, and so do my team.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
A customer once asked if anyone in the kitchen could fix their phone, because it had smashed while they were in the restaurant. I used our vac-pac machine to hold the screen together so they could take it to get fixed — that’s a true story.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
I’m a minimalist who’s always thinking about a well-designed plate.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
Someone once complained that they didn’t like the fresh fruit in our fruit platter… It was a strange complaint, but it did prompt us to have a conversation about taking our fruit platters off the menu. We realised that people were expecting mostly exotic and tropical fruit, or fruit that wasn’t at all in season in the UK.             

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A spoon!

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Greek yoghurt with Mexican honey.

À la carte or tasting menu?
Always à la carte — I like to have choice and flexibility.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
I had an incredible meal quite recently at Nutshell, an Iranian restaurant in Covent Garden.

Most overrated food?
Posh doughnuts. There’s been this new trend for a while for really crazy doughnuts, with all these things stuffed into them and piled on top of them. You lose the actual taste and texture of the doughnut. Simple is always best.

What’s your earliest food memory?
Cabbage soup made by my grandma. She would cook it for hours and hours — it sounds like it would be terrible, but it was warming and comforting and I loved it.

Favourite food and drink pairing (the more obscure, the better)?
An excellent coffee with a slice of almond frangipane tart.

What do you consider your signature dish?
I created a dessert called Kaizoku that features all of my favourite techniques and signature flavours. It’s a gluten-free coconut sponge layered with Colombian rum-and-raisin ice cream, milk chocolate and sesame oil crémeux and a coconut popsicle. Kaizoku loosely translates to ‘pirate’ in Japanese. The name was inspired by the sail-like shape of the dessert — and the rum, of course.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Read a lot, eat out and stay focused. Reading is really important and not talked about enough. You need to understand the history of food and the science behind it, and lots of great chefs and food technicians are also excellent writers.

Nobu London is celebrating its 25th​ anniversary this month. As part of the festivities, the restaurant is running an auction offering an exclusive 'Notting Hill' experience at Nobu London featuring dinner and an overnight stay for two, to raise money for The Childhood Trust. For more information on the auction and to make a bid, click here​.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Chef

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