10 Minutes With: Marc Wilkinson, Fraiche

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 2nd April 2016
All chefs say they never leave the kitchen but for Marc Wilkinson at one Michelin-starred Fraiche in Oxton, The Wirral, that is no exaggeration. He opened his restaurant in 2004 and has only just taken on another chef 12 years later! This month he is throwing caution to the wind and heading down to London, as Alyn Williams has asked him to be in the line-up for this year’s CHEFstock. The event which has been running for three years sees internationally renowned chefs collaborating with Alyn in the kitchen at his restaurant, Alyn Williams at The Westbury. The Staff Canteen spoke to Marc ahead of his opening dinner at CHEFstock on Tuesday night to find out what’s on the menu and how Fraiche has evolved since we last spoke to him five years ago. fraiche2“I was one man, surrounded by vegetables!” Laughed Marc. “I’ve increased one hundred percent now, there is a body in the kitchen so there are two of us. At the moment it’s still hard, he’s young and he’s just learning the way. It’s difficult as the kitchen is so small and I don’t have that much time to spend on somebody, I’m not able to jump from station to station and at the same time as trying to train him I have to prep for dinner.” Fraiche won its Michelin star in 2009, before opening Fraiche, Marc worked as head chef at the Latymer, in the Pennyhill Park hotel in Surrey, his food style had to change dramatically as he dropped to 16 covers and he had no brigade to rely on.

>>>Read more about this year's CHEFstock here

“You can’t see the trees for the forest sometimes, until you tale a step back and have a good look at it!” Explained Marc. “The food has evolved a lot in the past five years, we are pushing forward quite a bit and it’s probably more complex now than it ever was. There is hardly anything that stays apart from a couple of snacks. Everything else is a free-for-all and changes as we go through the seasons.” Dishes on Marc’s menu include, textures of carrot, pork belly and celeriac lasagna which he is doing a variation of at CHEFstock. He said: “It’s quite fresh and light, I use celeriac instead of pasta and it works well with a mushroom consommé.”fraiche dessert He added: “I’ve done a combination of safe dishes and new ones for CHEFstock, I’m going into a foreign kitchen where I don’t know anyone and I don’t even know where the kettle is! So it’s daunting to suddenly produce the same level of cuisine. I’m bringing the old girl with me, the panna cotta, she’s the oldest on the block and I tweaked the recipe about a year ago.” This is Marc’s first CHEFstock as he says ‘I don’t normally get out’, being a one-man-band he is responsible for everything at Fraiche so doing events means he has to shut the restaurant. He said: “I say no to everything! Because Fraiche doesn’t open if I’m not here. But I’m getting a new kitchen built at the minute and CHEFstock falls into the time we are closed for this.” Marc is the first chef in the line-up which includes, Nigel Haworth, Northcote; Riccardo Camanini, Ristorante Lido 84, Lake Garda and Sasu Laukkonen, Chef and Sommelier, Helsinki. “I’ll set the bar,” said Marc. “It can only get better from me! Alyn is putting dishes on to so it’ll be a big boy in London and a little man from a shed – bit of a strange combination but it’ll be good fun.” fraiche dishAs well as bringing his dishes with him Marc is also introducing the Westbury to his playlist which he uses at Fraiche. The style of music is probably not something usually heard at the five star hotel as Marc explained: “Food has never been an issue at Fraiche, the issue was atmosphere. I needed to address it, I went to Beluga in Maastricht not to see chef but to see the DJ! I wanted to see how they could affect the room’s atmosphere with the vibe and tempo of music. It’s unheard of this side of the water, you don’t hear of Ramsay having a DJ. “I spoke to a few big DJs over here and they helped me on the road, I now create my own playlist with a vibe, tempo and theme for each season. So the playlist you’ll here on the night at Alyn Williams will reflect spring. “I’m amazed they’ve agreed to it! I don’t know if they have ever had dance music in the Westbury – but Alyn is up for it and it’s Fraiche, that’s what we are about.” He added: “It’s going to be nice to just be in a kitchen with talented boys because I kind of miss that.” CHEFstock runs through April, there are tickets still available for a few of the evenings for more details call the reservation line on: 020 7183 6426

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 2nd April 2016

10 Minutes With: Marc Wilkinson, Fraiche