Mark Froydenlund, head chef, Marcus, The Berkeley

The  Staff Canteen
Mark Froydenlund is head chef at Marcus. Situated in The Berkeley, Marcus Wareing's eponymous restaurant has been open for ten years and in that time has achieved two Michelin stars and 5 AA Rosettes. Mark has been part of the team for eight years and we spoke to him about having Marcus as a role model, finding his feet in the head chef role and his future plans for the restaurant.Mark and Marcus You started at Marcus in 2007, what experience did you have before that? I pretty much went straight from Westminster Kingsway College to work with Marcus in what was then Petrus. I spent most of my teenage years working in a local restaurant back home in Leigh-on-sea, Essex. I actually followed my brother into it as we both took part time jobs working for the same family. I was always interested in being in the kitchen and from a young age I enjoyed cooking. What made you want to work in London? I had some good connections through the college. They put me in touch with Marcus Wareing, I knew who he was and what he stood for, I was sure it was something I wanted to do. I knew it was going to be a really intense kitchen but I wanted that learning curve. I learnt quickly, not just about food and how to cook but operating a kitchen and leading a team. Galloway beef, potato, cabbage, short ribAfter five years you were made head chef, do you think you were ready? When I took on the role, Marcus and the executive chef were still very much in the kitchen so I was never on my own so to speak and I didn’t have to carry the whole burden. It’s only in the last year or two that I’ve really started to feel comfortable in the role and feel like I’m doing everything I need to be doing. It was that step that has got me to here, if I hadn’t been pushed by Marcus to take on the role of head chef, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Were there aspects of the role which you found harder to get used to than others? In terms of the kitchen I was lucky, I had been here a long time and I knew it inside out. I knew how it ran and the service, controlling the team – at that time we were really well rehearsed and we knew exactly what we were doing. In terms of developing the menu, coming up with new ideas – that was something that took a lot longer. It took a bit of time to work out what I liked and develop my own style but not forgetting it's a team effort. It’s the only way it can be - there are parts of Marcus, me and the whole team in the food. If we want the team to feel passionate and go that bit further they need to be part of the process. Is Marcus someone you look up to as a role model? Absolutely, 100%! He’s great– he can run the businesses, he knows how to read the guests, he sees things no one else would spot and he’s got a great sense of hospitality. He’s always been pinned down as having a serious and stern attitude which he does have but there’s also a different side which you got to see on MasterChef. He’s encouraging and he tries to show people the right direction, his pursuit of perfection is inspiring.Night room shot You have a brigade of 24, how important is training and development of that team? It’s crucial. You can’t underestimate how important having a good team around you is. We’ve got young guys here who need a lot of guidance and help but when you stand and watch them working you realise how much they are putting in. They may not hit the nail on the head every time but that drive young people have when they first start in the industry is really inspirational. It makes you work harder and means you want to support them and help them achieve their goals, which is good for the restaurant and means you’re never taking your foot off the pedal. It has been said there is a skill shortage in the industry, is this something you’ve noticed?
Dream restaurant: I’d like something family run, with a lot of character and personality behind it. I’d want dishes on the menu that people really want to eat, dishes which come to mind and make you really hungry. Dream brigade:
  • Fish - Marcus Wareing
  • Larder – Jason Atherton
  • Pastry – Simon Jenkins
I don’t think so. I think the applicants are younger but I do think people are less willing to come into this type of environment further into their careers because it does take a lot to adapt to it and not everyone can. It’s a place where people come to learn and then move on, it’s not a place where people stay as long as I have, but that’s a natural progression. You relaunched Marcus last year, what were the main changes and why? We’ve brought the food and the restaurant onto the same level. The food since Marcus took over five years ago has changed a lot. We really modernised the room to fit in with the lighter style of food, and new service style and in doing so it has made it more accessible at lunchtime. It always has been a great restaurant for dinner but now it is on a whole new level, it looks fantastic when the candles are lit and the lights are low, the energy and buzz in the room is amazing. Before the relaunch lunch time was slightly missing that edge we had on dinner but now we have it across both. The Chef’s Table is also a slightly different experience now; there is a lot more space which gives us flexibility with what we can offer and how we can interact with our guests.feta verbena tomato (4) Is that something you enjoy, having the interaction from the Chef’s Table? It’s great – especially on a weekend - we have some fantastic groups of really interesting people. People are there to relax, celebrate and enjoy themselves and it’s so nice to see that. As a chef you don’t always get to see the enjoyment and the pleasure that our food gives people, that makes it all worthwhile. People love seeing their food being put together and there’s a lot more interest in that now, watching the chefs working on their dishes is a great thing for them to see. We don’t work any differently, if it’s a quiet, calm night that’s what they get but if it’s a busy, stressful night and things aren’t quite going to plan then they see that as well. You currently have a spring menu, tasting menu and à la carte menu. Do you have a favourite? M Grouse 3I think the tasting menu at the moment is really good, one of the best ones we’ve had. I’m really proud of all those dishes and we’ve put a lot of effort into this menu. We’ve pushed up another level and made it more interesting. I also think the taste of spring menu is awesome, if I was coming for lunch it’s definitely what I would be having. What would you say is your speciality and what dishes do you most enjoy cooking? We try and do a lot of cooking of whole joints for the Chef’s Table if we have the right number. I think you get the best out of the produce when you cook it as a whole joint. It’s great to be able to showcase the whole piece of meat like that. Your menu is seasonal, how easy is it to get hold of those ingredients in central London?Marcus Chefs Table  (1) London is great and we are great supporters of British produce and use it as first choice wherever we can. Asparagus comes direct from the farm twice a week, so we are really lucky as London is a bit of a hub and we are able to get hold of pretty much everything. Our suppliers work really hard and every year they try and introduce new ingredients and new sources of inspiration. We cannot ignore that we have Europe on our doorstep though, we have some fantastic suppliers bringing in stuff from Spain, France and Italy. So what’s next for you? I’m really happy here. There are still things we want to do and this was sort of the warm up year. There are more projects coming up for the restaurant and I want to keep pushing it forward. Daniel Greenock, our restaurant manager, Marcus and I want us to continue to be right up there at the top with the other great restaurants.

If you like the sound of working with both Marcus and Mark they're currently recruiting over on our jobs board here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th May 2015

Mark Froydenlund, head chef, Marcus, The Berkeley