Chef talk: Richard Allen at Tassili
It's safe to say that Grand Jersey chef Richard Allen had a
great year in 2012. In June, he won 'Restaurant Chef of the Year'
at the Craft Guild of Chefs event at Wembley Stadium, and followed
it up with the 'Hotel Chef of the Year' accolade (in the less than
250 covers category) at the Hotel Catey awards in November - in
culinary terms it's like winning the Oscars. They're an impressive
duo of awards to add to the Michelin star he gained for Tassili in 2011 and his
listing in Debrett's 2012 People of Today. But despite all this
success, Tassili's Executive Head Chef is still a down to earth
type, who believes the future of food is in local produce.
How do you feel, looking back on such a successful year?
'It's amazing - but very humbling. The most rewarding thing for me has been to see the reaction of my team. We're a young team - one of my juniors was a college student three years ago, and to have achieved a Michelin star with me has been a great start for them. It's shown them what can be achieved, and to be cooking at this level is phenomenal.'
How do you rate the food scene in Jersey?
'I can't think of a time when there have been so many outstanding food establishments in such a small area here on the island. It's an absolute food mecca from Michelin-starred fine dining through to beach cafés that serve excellent food. To be able to access such a high level of produce and culinary technique all within the island's shores is incredible and makes us a real gourmet destination.'
What's your star local product?
'That's a tough one but I'd have to say the local pork from Darren Quenault at Classic Herd. They produce local cheeses as well and you'll see their Jersey Blue featured on our cheeseboard. It's amazing. The cheeseboard in Tassili is completely British, and while it's more of a challenge to source just British and Jersey cheese, it means we can introduce our diners to some really interesting varieties.'
How has your cooking style evolved?
'Dramatically! Before I arrived at Tassili in 2007, I spent three years at The Cavendish Restaurant in Bath, where the focus was on game and meat. When I arrived in Jersey, there was far more local seafood, so I definitely had to change my style!'
What should people look out for on the spring menu?
'The local asparagus. It's outstanding. And also I'm featuring Jersey quail for the first time. Another signature dish that I predict will be popular is the local Jersey duck eggs with spring truffles - there's plenty on the menu to look out for.'
How do you see cooking evolving in 2013?
'I think there will be a return to simplicity. Simple, fresh flavours and unfussy presentation. Things don't have to be so symmetrical, and the result is a more natural style that really highlights the flavour of the dishes. And of course it's so important to be led by the seasons. In the summer, we're looking for fresh tastes - a beer and a salad on the terrace for example, and in the winter - pork and crackling by the fire. It's sensible and it allows us to showcase the best freshest local produce.'
Locavores, listen up. For a real taste of Jersey, chef Richard Allen has challenged himself to source every ingredient locally. You can taste the results - the three course 'Longitude & Latitude of Jersey' menu featuring only local ingredients will be available at lunch and dinner in Tassili from February onwards. To book a table at Tassili, Grand Jersey, call 01534 722301 or visit their website, www.grandjersey.com.