Patrick joined Roux Blond in 2015 and it was very clear from the start that Patrick was meant to be a part of the team. His shared vision of what a culinary experience should be was the foundation of a great working relationship. It is evident that Patrick has an incredible passion and curiosity for this industry and we are very excited to hear more from Patrick in the future.
Interview: Patrick Graham - Executive Chef - The Roux Blond Collective
Where were you born?
What is your culinary educational background?
My education began with reading books, particularly Harold McGee’s On Food & Cooking, scouring the internet for information and experimenting in the kitchen. I was introduced to the head chef at the butcher and grill in London by my other half. The chef, David Massey, offered me a week trial to see how I get on and offered me a job after two days. They generously offered to pay for me to go to college to do my chefs certificate. When the head chef left to open his own restaurant later on that year he asked me to join his team. I continued to work for just over a year but felt I wasn’t learning enough so I started looking for work elsewhere. I was put in touch with Hix Oyster & Chop House and started working there under Stewart Tattersal. Working at Hix was a great experience, I learnt a lot and met some great chefs. I then moved to Australia where I met Greig Lamont at Wink 2, he introduced me to more complex plating and style of cooking. We became friends and continued to work together for 4 years at various restaurants. Over the years we worked together Greig managed to severely injure himself 3 years in a row which pushed me into the head chef roll over the busiest periods of the year. This allowed me to gain some good experience before moving into the executive chef roll with Roux Blond. I still spend a lot of time reading and researching as it has been the main source of my education on the technical side of cooking.
When did you start cooking?
When I was young I used to decorate the family Christmas cake and I won a trophy in cubs for cooking, other than that I didn’t have much involvement with food and was a very fussy eater until I went to uni, that was when I became really interested. I began applying the knowledge that I had learnt in chemistry and physics to understand what I was doing and why. That was the point when cooking started to take over from my studying!
How would you describe your cooking style?
I don’t think I have a style really, it’s more of an approach to cooking. I try not to be constrained by normal or classic combinations and approaches to flavours and plating. I find it more interesting to research and develop methods and flavour combinations that use produce in inventive ways.
What’s your favourite appliance or utensil and why?
Circulator because it allows us to achieve textures and shapes that would be impractical if not impossible to achieve by conventional means.
What’s your favourite cookbook?
That is a difficult one, I would have to say either On Food & Cooking or Modernist Cuisine
What’s your favourite ingredient?
Anything that it local, seasonal and interesting!
Do you have a mentor or any industry role models?
Not really, I draw inspiration from any chefs that are creating interesting food.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
Finding staff that are genuinely passionate about cooking.
If you weren’t a chef what would you be?
Baker. I love baking bread, it’s such a pleasure to turn three ingredients into something that is so delicious. It’s amazing how many forms that bread has taken around the world using essentially the same ingredients and the same principals.
What is one dish or ingredient you think everyone should try?
Crocodile Dashi. After I first made a batch I couldn’t get over how deliciously savoury it was.
What would you say your best or “signature” dish is?
That’s a hard one to answer because I don’t really use dishes over again, I like to move forward and create new menus. I easily get bored with cooking the same food, I think it’s important to keep your chefs creatively active and motivated by constantly pushing forward.
Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs?
Don’t do it unless you really love it. You will work long hours for not much money, work through sickness (non-contagious) and pain, your social life will disappear. Having said that if you work some shifts in a kitchen and fall in love with it, the career is incredibly rewarding. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Do you have advice for home cooks looking to expand their knowledge?
Don’t stick to conventional cookbooks, most are just recipes with very little that can help you understand what you are doing. Get onto the internet or look for cookbooks with a more scientific approach, you will then learn to understand how and why techniques work. Once you gain this understanding you can start to be more creative with regular success which in turn is even more rewarding!
What do you enjoy most about cooking?
The creative aspects are very important to me but there is no getting away from the fact that smashing a busy service is incredibly rewarding and gives me a buzz. Having said that I cook most of the time I am at home, sometimes I am just experimenting and playing with ideas and concepts, sometimes practicing techniques, sometimes it’s cooking for the in-laws or just having a night in with Alisa. I just love everything about cooking I think!
What would be your dream job?
Don’t think it would be a job, it would be having my own small holding and living off the land. Mind you that is more of a retirement plan!