We are delighted that Frederick Forster is a brand ambassador for Miele. Here the head chef of Le Pont de la Tour talks to Der Kern about his passion for seasonal produce, cooking style, favourite dishes and his not so secret love of Marks & Spencer biscuits!
Did you always want to be a chef?
Yes – from around 13. My mum always encouraged me to help in the kitchen and by 15 I knew that I wanted to study cooking at college.
Who inspired your love of food?
My mum is my biggest influencer. I read a lot of cookery books and one of the first was by Raymond Blanc and I thought to myself, ‘I want to go and work for this guy one day’.
How has your cooking developed over the years?
Most of my training has been in high-end restaurants with lots of French influences. Over the years my style has become simpler with a greater focus on seasonal produce. I have worked with many incredible chefs over the years that have imparted advice, and I like to think that I have taken bits from all these experiences and developed my own style. What mood I am in and culinary trends also shape the way I cook.
Savoury or sweet?
Where do you like to eat when you have a night off?
To be honest I don’t eat out as much as I would like but when I do I like to go to local restaurants in Brixton, Borough Market and West Dulwich. I like to discover new places to eat that serve simple food.
How do you relax after a busy day?
I love sport and am very sporty. To relax I like to watch basketball as well as going to the gym, for a swim and running outside.
What is your favourite dish to cook?
Lobster Thermidor – it is a traditional, classic dish with a lot of history that gives me great joy when preparing.
Who are your kitchen heroes?
My mum is my number one. My college, Westminster Kingsway gave me a fantastic grounding and I have learnt a great deal from everyone I have worked with including Raymond Blanc, John Williams, Gordon Ramsey, Malcolm John and the Roux family to name a few.
Do you have a signature dish?
At Le Pont de la Tour we have a great sharing dish ‘Crab and Caviar’ that offers white and brown crab meat, frozen cucumber and caviar, which are served in individual mother of pearl dishes on crushed ice – it is simple, fresh and fun!
How would you describe your cooking style?
Simple, an emphasis on seasonality, great attention to detail and a touch of innovation.
Do you have a favourite season for produce?
I like all the seasons but I think autumn is my favourite as it is more of a challenge to find seasonal ingredients. I like to create dishes that have a great depth of flavour and slow cooking in the autumn is perfect for this.
Who would be your ultimate dinner party guests?
Favourite mealtime of the day?
Breakfast – it is important to get a good start.
Living in London, where do you like to shop for ingredients?
At the weekend, I really enjoy going to Brixton and Borough market.
If you had to prepare a meal blindfolded what would you cook?!
I think it would have to be sushi as I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking, just tasting and chopping!
Do you have a preferred cooking technique?
I love braising – the long cooking time imparts great flavour.
What’s the first dish you remember eating?
One of my first experiences of a restaurant was Pierre Koffmann’s La Tante Claire where I ate squid ink risotto.
If you only had half an hour to prepare a meal what would you create?
A rib eye steak with cauliflower cheese and a little béarnaise sauce – three of my favourite things to eat.
Guilty food pleasure?
I have got a real thing for Marks & Spencer biscuits!
If you were only able to use one food item in your cooking what would it be?
Maldon salt – a lovely, refined flaked rock salt that gives a dish a little bit extra
*Photo credit – Jean Cazals