National Chef of the Year 2016: Larry Jayasekara, June 2016

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th May 2016

This is the fourth in a series of regular blogs by head chef of Petrus and winner of National Chef of the Year 2016, Larry Jayasekara.

Since my last post my main priority has really been getting the summer menu sorted for Petrus. I have been looking at all the latest seasonal produce on offer and using a lot of fresh and flavoursome fruits like strawberries and raspberries to create some very light and colourful dishes. So they should be popping up on the menu real soon.

We also recently introduced a separate Father’s Day menu. The dishes have generally been based on what we think a typical father would enjoy, so we have created this fun amuse bouche using tomato essence which will be served in a pint glass to look like beer but it won’t be alcoholic. Then they will also get to enjoy Dorset crab, chicken liver parfait with green beans and suckling pig, so it’s fairly similar to the menu we created for Easter Sunday. It’s basically your typical Sunday roast but we’ve just refined it a little. To finish the meal guests will be treated to chocolate tart with milk ice cream so it’s really simple and tasty, nothing too fancy.

I’m also very excited to announce that I’ll be holding a few masterclasses here at Petrus! We’ll be holding the classes once a month for up to eight guests with the first one being held on 3 July for £250pp. Guests will get to learn all about the food and how we make it and get to take home a little goody bag telling them what we’ll be doing for the next class, a little history about Petrus, an apron and some lovely chocolates.

For the first class I will be showing them how to make a beef wellington. To help me out I will be joined by two sous chefs and a couple of chef de parties. Although we’re normally closed on Sundays I thought one Sunday a month would be a good time to get the guys to come in and help me out. By doing the classes it will help build their confidence as they’ll be interacting more with the customers which is paramount for when they move on to open their own restaurants and run their own kitchen so it’s good practice for them to help build them up to that level.

>>> Read more of Larry's blogs here


It’s very difficult to be in the kitchen and to interact with the diners as well, so for me it’s all about building the team. I don’t want my staff to be coming and going every six months, I want them to stay here for a minimum of two years really. It’s all about teamwork, it’s never a one man show so it’s something I can give back to them to help them in the future. I am proud of every single one of them at Petrus and I believe helping me out with the masterclasses will no doubt make them stronger cooks and will get them to learn about all aspects of the kitchen rather than just one specialised area. Pastry, for example, makes up one third of the menu at Petrus so you have to know how the whole kitchen operates.

I do get them to move around the kitchen every three months or so though just to get them used to working in all sections. When you are in the game every day you can sometimes lose some of that focus and some days it’s easy to feel down because you do the same dish day in and day out, it’s funny to see how motivated they are when they come back in saying they can do this and do that, it’s really nice to see their improvement.

So I will be holding the first class on 3 July with the next one on 7 August and a final one during the first week of September. I didn’t want to do any for November and December just because of Christmas and how hectic that time of year is but I will bring them back in the New Year.

Another exciting thing that has happened to me recently is that I got invited along to the Craft Guild of Awards by David Mulcahy from the Craft Guild of Chefs! The ceremony will be taking place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel on 1 June and I will be presenting an award! It was all very unexpected, David initially got in contact to invite me to the awards ceremony and then emailed two weeks later to ask if I would be happy playing a role for the evening. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but then he emailed again a few days ago to ask if I would like to present an award, so it will be a really nice experience getting to present an award to somebody.

I also encouraged one of my sous chefs at Petrus to enter the National Chef of the Year competition. We put in the application last month so we are just waiting to hear whether he has got through or not, if he does get through I will mentor him all the way and try and get him into the final. It would be great to bring home the crown again for a second year! For me it is all about the winning, yes it’s a good experience and you get to meet some fantastic people but at the end of the day I don’t see the point in entering a competition if you don’t want to win.

It’s a paper judging round this year and the criteria is to create a risotto of your choice and use a whole chicken for the main course followed by a choux pastry dessert. We worked on a tomato risotto by reducing the tomato essence paired with all the latest seasonal vegetables including wild garlic, green and white asparagus, little carrots, etc. so it looks like a little garden but underneath you have a nice risotto. For the final course we made a choux bun with dark chocolate crème inside with rosemary and raspberry sorbet. I don’t think anyone has tried rosemary and raspberry together so hopefully it should stand out. We’re aiming to keep it plain and simple but to back it up on flavour.

Hopefully I will be able to let you know how it all goes in time for my next blog!

>>> Read more blogs from Larry Jayasekara here

Larry Jayasekara is the National Chef of the Year, having won the competition at the Restaurant Show in October. He is head chef of Gordon Ramsay's Michelin Star restaurant Pétrus and previously worked as executive chef for the Manor at Weston-on-the-Green, sous chef at Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, senior sous chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and spent two years at the Waterside Inn in Bray.

Larry joins a long line of great chefs to have won the prestigious award including Gordon Ramsay, David Everitt-MatthiasSimon HulstoneMark SargeantSteve LoveAlyn Williams and many more.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th May 2016

National Chef of the Year 2016: Larry Jayasekara, June 2016