Chef Jack Blumenthal shares why he’s taking his guests into the kitchen
The former Fat Duck chef launches the Tempus Supper Clubs
The world’s top chefs will often tell you that making it in the restaurant industry takes skill, creativity and a fearless approach to your craft. As a young chef with an already impressive repertoire, it’s clear that Jack Blumenthal has all this and more. Now, the Fat Duck Group’s former development chef is spreading his wings even further by launching a new series of Mayfair supper clubs in partnership with Tempus.
With an emphasis on seasonal British ingredients and outstanding guest experience, Blumenthal is determined to create a unique theme and menu for each event based entirely on his guests’ favourite meals. The challenge, he says, is to exceed their memories and bring his own unique twist on each dish.
Blumenthal’s collaborative approach comes as no surprise given his career rise so far. The 26-year-old son of revolutionary chef Heston Blumenthal got his start working at his father’s Michelin-star pub, The Hind’s Head in Berkshire. “I think I had racked up an iTunes bill I had to work off,” he laughs. But the chef-in-training very soon earned his place in this most demanding of kitchens. From there, he worked under chef Adam Simmonds before studying – and later going on to teach – at the University of West London.
We speak to Blumenthal about getting out of the kitchen, his rise through the restaurant ranks, and why cooking is far more than just a family trade.
Jack, what inspired you to launch the Tempus Supper Club?
Jack Blumenthal: Cooking is obviously in my blood and has been passed down to me, but for me it’s all about making people happy. Supper clubs give me an opportunity to meet with guests, create menus that are tailored to them, and really interact with them to make them feel part of the experience. I think that’s what’s important about cooking, that people love it. I get my point and personality across in my food.
What can guests expect?
Our guests can expect a bespoke experience designed for them. My plan is to work with our guests to cater for exactly what they want, but also to throw in a little surprise here and there. Dining is all about the customers’ overall experience, not just about what the chef puts on the plate. I look forward to being fully interactive with all the guests to make this a meal they’ll never forget. >>
Are there specific challenges in catering for an event compared to being in your own restaurant?
Yes, definitely. One challenge of catering an event is not knowing the venue – you arrive and there’s half a kitchen or no appliances. I did a private job in Thailand a few years ago at this newly built mansion, catering for about 90 people, and they didn’t have a kitchen – no plates, no gas. I ended up making a canapé platter from half a door and some banana leaves; it was great! I think the key is knowing not to expect too much. It’s challenging, but it’s also part of the fun and what makes catering exciting.
What attracted you to the restaurant industry?
I didn’t have a choice [laughs]. My father has done a lot for the restaurant industry and I’ve got so much respect for him and what he’s achieved. Being around him and the business, I’ve always learnt loads just in the background. I tried a few office jobs but I always ended up back in the kitchen. Eventually I thought, ‘Stop fighting it, Jack.’ I started working in Dad’s pub, the Hind’s Head in Bray. From there I worked for an amazing chef, Adam Simmonds, at Danesfield House. After that I studied at University of West London, and then I became a teacher. It was so rewarding seeing kids go from not being able to hold a knife to running a 60-cover restaurant with ease. That’s why I love my job, and what inspires me. The more I learn, the more I want to pass that down to others.
How would you describe your style as a chef?
I like to keep things simple, but with a little added twist here and there. I love British culture and produce, so if it’s locally sourced and seasonal that’s great. Let the ingredients do the talking and don’t overcomplicate it too much. I’m still quite young so I’m still learning about myself and about different cuisines and cultures. I get a lot inspiration from social media at the moment. I think all any chef can do is keep an open mind and not be afraid to try new things.
Who are your biggest influences in the industry?
I’ve had great people mentor me. Obviously, I’ve got so much respect for my Dad and he’s a massive influence of mine. He’s the reason I became a chef in the first place. I think the classic French chefs are amazing. Years ago, before Dad’s restaurants were doing well, we would drive down to the south of France and eat at classic French restaurants. My childhood memories of going to places like La Maison Troisgros near Lyon, and the whole experience – the food, the ambiance, the people who were there – is a huge influence for me. It sometimes makes me shivery, thinking about it.