Jamie Randall, head chef at Bryn Williams’ Odette’s, London

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st May 2014

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Jamie Randall is the 25-year old head chef at Bryn Williams’ acclaimed Primrose Hill restaurant, Odette’s. He trained at East Kent College before moving to London to work at St Alban and Galvin La Chapelle where, in 2011, he achieved the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts’ Award of Excellence. In the same year he moved to Odette’s as sous chef, taking the step up to head chef in April last year.  
Beetroot salad, goats cheese, blood orange & pine nut - John Carey

How did the transition from sous chef to head chef come about lsat year and how did you find it?

The old head chef was leaving so I sat down with Bryn and had a discussion and he said I was ready for it. He asked me if I was ready for it in my own mind and to go away and think about it. I loved working here so it seemed like the right move for me to take.

 

Curriculum Vitae -St Alban, London, 2007-2009 (commis chef and chef de partie) -Galvin La Chapelle, London, 2010-2011 (chef de partie and senior chef de partie) -Odette’s, London, 2011- present (sous chef and head chef). 

 

Dream restaurant Definitely in London, serving the kind of food I do now, because it’s what I love. A very relaxed, neighbourhood style and let the food do the talking. 

Five most influential chefs: 

Dale Osborne, formerly St Alban, London (taught me all the basics). 

Jeff Galvin, Galvin Restaurants (taught me a lot about meat prep and butchery). 

Bryn Williams, Odette’s, London (Bryn has been a massive influence on my cooking).

Daniel Clifford, Midsummer House, Cambridge (I love the look of his food). Phil Howard, The Square, London (one of the best cookbooks I’ve read and the restaurant I took my girlfriend to on our first date!)

Coming in to Odette’s as a sous chef, I was 22, so it was a massive step up for me. I was very cautious about taking it, but obviously I had Bryn around me to teach me everything I needed to know. It wasn’t so much the cooking side of things more the aspect of teaching people and man-managing people. As a sous chef you always had somebody above you to ask the questions; moving up to head chef suddenly the responsibility is all on your shoulders. But Bryn worked very closely with me – he still does now – but the first six months, everything we did, we did it together, so without that, it would have been a lot different.

What has been your biggest learning curve a a head chef?

The thing I’ve learnt the most is that everybody you teach, you have to teach them in different ways; some people learn verbally, others you have to show things practically. Then if somebody does something wrong, there are some people you can shout at and get a good reaction and others that will cry. Being young – I was 24 when I first turned head chef – teaching someone that’s older than you, you have to respect them but also get them to respect what you’re trying to teach them. But anything I’ve ever been stuck on, Bryn’s always been only a call or text message away.

How does the creatuve aspect work between you, Bryn and the rest of the team?

In terms of creating dishes, me and Bryn will bounce ideas off one another and that’s mainly how we do things – we’ll use a main ingredient to a dish then go our own ways to come up with a garnish and then bring it together, maybe taking one garnish that I did and something from what Bryn did, then come up with the final product. That’s how we do everything; even with our ‘du jour’ menu, we’ll sit down on a Monday morning and go through it together.  

Whole lemon sole grenobloise, salsify, potted shrimp sauce - John Carey How would you describe the team dynamic at Odette's?

We’ve got a very strong team here; we’ve got nine in the brigade, not including Bryn, and they’ve all been here well over a year so they’re very strong and loyal. As it’s such a small kitchen, we’re a very tight, close knit brigade and we all look after each other.

What was it about the food style at Odette's that matched up with where you saw yourself going?

It’s not overcomplicated food; we try to do classic combinations with a modern twist; there’s lots of thought gone into it but there’s not necessarily lots on a plate; it tends to be one main ingredient with three other elements on the plate and we try to stick to that with every dish we do. It’s just the kind of food that, if I were to go out to a restaurant, it’s what I’d like to go and eat; and that’s a big thing for me – whenever I come up with a new dish it has to be something I would like to eat.
Glazed pork cheek, apple & lobster bisque - John Carey

Has working at Odette's given you some idea of what your food style is and how that's developing?

I don’t think that I could say I’ve got my own food style yet because I think it takes a hell of a long time to actually get that but since working here I know what I like and I do know what I want to cook for myself in the future, which is similar to what we do at Odette’s – not too fine dining but comfortable and relaxed with great quality products and let those sing for themselves.

Youv'e had a big refurb recently; what has that involved?

We’ve got more seats overall; we’ve got more décor upstairs in the restaurant and downstairs we’ve had a completely new kitchen with a chef’s table for six people and a PDR room which seats ten people.
Odettes Dining room  - John Carey

How has the new chef's table worked for you?

It’s been a big thing for us. We do an eight-course tasting menu and we like to get the customers involved, so the chefs will serve everything, describe every dish to them and then we get them up to cook as well, so they cook their own fish dish and also plate their own desserts; it’s always developing and we’re changing bits of it every time we do one.

Who came up with the idea of getting the customers involved in cooking?

When we did the first couple of chef’s tables, it was great to see just how interested the customers were. We put a chicken stock on every night, which is an 80-litre pot, and they were amazed by it, so we started showing them round the kitchen and all the different equipment we had; and from there we just thought, why not get them to cook their own fish? Odettes Rear dining room - John Carey Not everyone wants to do it but I’d say a good 90% love it and that’s why they’ve booked to come. Unfortunately a lot of customers want to see a Gordon Ramsay-style kitchen with effing and blinding because they think that’s what the industry’s like but of course it’s not like that anymore.

Do you have people complaining that there's not enough swearing?

Yeah, we get people all the time saying: “Oh my God, you’re so quiet!”

Do you see yourself opening up you own place at somepoint?

Yes I see myself trying to branch out on my own in the next three or four years. My girlfriend is also a chef working as a chef de partie at Murano. It would either be in my home town, Deal, or her home town, which is Bristol. It will be interesting to see how we work together but you never know until you try.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st May 2014

Jamie Randall, head chef at Bryn Williams’ Odette’s, London