10 minutes with: Calum Franklin, head chef at Holborn Dining Room

The  Staff Canteen
Head chef of Holborn Dining Room at Rosewood London is Calum Franklin. His culinary training began at Michelin-starred Chapter One in Kent where he worked under Andrew McLeish for two years. His bio states that he is ‘obsessive about the provenance of ingredients’ so when I went to meet him I wanted to know: how easy it is to implement his beliefs in central London? HDR interior low resYou can’t help but feel relaxed in Holborn Dining Room, in fact you could spend most of the day in there if you had the time. The kitchen reflects the same atmosphere and that’s down to head chef Calum Franklin who’s brigade work with precision but with a smile on their faces. He took over the head chef position in March last year when owner Des McDonald suggested the move. “For the last eight years I’ve been cooking modern British food,” explained Calum. “So the idea of coming here and running a large British brasserie was right up my street. It was interesting to me and it was a new project. We are involved with Rosewood as well which is a phenomenal hotel group so it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.” The refined but casual menu reflects Calum’s style of cooking – at lunch you can even get your hands on a fish finger sandwich! The restaurant itself is inducive of being relaxed and having a good time. He said: “The restaurant is not stuffy at all and this is reflected in my food which is not over tweaked. I focus on flavours and provenance with the food rather than over stylised food. I enjoy the winter months because I’m into gutsy, slow cooked dishes.” He added: “What’s in season is always the beginning of the thought process for a dish. We spend a lot of time with our fishmonger, our butchers and the fisherman on the coast to find out what they can do for us. We visit the fishermen every three weeks and we spend a day with them on the boats which is good for us and the suppliers. Often chefs make demands of their butchers, fisherman and even veg suppliers which are unrealistic because they are just focused on their kitchen. If you spend time working with the suppliers you can see what can be done and it gives you ideas - so you might see cuts of meat that you haven’t used before.”Lamb All chefs champion their suppliers but Calum wants to raise standards within the industry alongside many other influential chefs. He’s a big supporter of the Cornwall Project, a London-Cornish collective aimed at driving Cornish produce, creating jobs in Cornwall – which is a huge area of unemployment – and enabling the producers to be better at what they do. Calum explained: “I realised I hadn’t left the city in two years! The opportunity came up to visit one of the suppliers in Padstow five months ago and we’ve now made it a regular thing. It’s quite unique but our butcher, fishermen and veg suppliers are all based in the same area so I hire a big 4x4 and I take a group of chefs, not just from here but from other restaurants like Lyles, The Clove Club and Coya, and we spend a weekend down there.” He added: “There’s a plan going on at the moment to introduce a style of fishing from Japan called Ikijime, which will drastically increase the quality of fish in London. Originally 20 of us went down to Cornwall from different restaurants to discuss it with the fishermen. You have to remember these fishermen are generations old, they are very specific in their ways and we had to discuss something that was very different. It’s specifically for Sushi restaurants or very high end restaurants like Ferra, and the fish is killed in a way that it’s rigid and as fresh as it can be – to do this it means killing it live in London. So the fish will be transported live into the city. Padstow fisherman Johnny Murt on his boat (Abbie Trayler-Smith) low res"It’s been spearheaded by executive chef of Umu, Yoshinori. He was disappointed with the quality of the fish when he came over here from Japan. Instead of just moaning about it he set off on his own mission to see if he could change that. For me the fish killed in this style is not something I can use here because it needs time to rest after it’s killed before it’s cooked, but it’s perfect for sushi and sashimi, and I’ll still be taking advantage of the quick transport of the fish so I have some of the freshest fish in London.” Calum began his career at the age of 17 when he worked as a kitchen porter, he realised immediately that it was the industry for him. He said: “The atmosphere in the kitchen and the creativity of chefs made me realise it was the career for me. I’m not someone who can sit down for long periods of time.” Running alongside Holborn Dining Room is the deli, this little gem is full of fresh produce from the kitchen on a daily basis including hot foods, sandwiches and salads. You can also get your hands on products from small British artisan producers – it’s a micro version of the restaurant. “It’s a busy little room,” said Calum. “It keeps us busy in the kitchen which is great and it’s constantly evolving. We don’t have a specific menu, it changes day to day. This gives the younger guys in the kitchen a chance to come up with dishes for that.”The BIO SCHEME 2 low res Calum’s passion for provenance is a theme which runs throughout the restaurant and it is also championed by the executive chef of Rosewood Hotel, Amadine Chaignot. A cycle has been created throughout the kitchens where waste product is taken to the roof for compost for a small vegetable plot which has been created. In turn the kitchens then gets fresh vegetables and salad from there. Calum explained: “It’s still in the very early stages. Obviously restaurants of this size means we  won’t be able to produce everything that we need. But it’s great to use the salads in the deli and explain they have just come from up on the roof! The concept of inner city growers is expanding in London now and it’s really interesting. However it is quite specialist and it requires a lot of work. We’re very lucky to have a grower who focuses all his attention on it.” He added: “There are a lot of restaurants in London doing it but I don’t think it’s going to dominate the industry. If we can get a better product from somewhere else we will but what we are growing up on the roof at the moment is pretty interesting.” Holborn Dining Room and Rosewood Hotel share a courtyard which guests can dine al fresco in but Calum also wanted to create a use for the space on a weekend and so the idea for an artisan market was born. The relatively new idea began two months ago and it’s already attracting a big crowd, there are plans to expand the number of stalls to 80 from the original 40. British Charcuterie Board low res“There’s nothing like this around here on a Sunday,” explained Calum. “We have a huge residential population here too and we thought it would be interesting to do something which brought in the locals, where they can actually do their weekly food shop. “The market itself fits into the ethos of the hotel. It’s sustainable, artisan products where you can see people have really concentrated on the details of what they are producing."
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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th April 2015

10 minutes with: Calum Franklin, head chef at Holborn Dining Room