Simon Jenkins, executive pastry chef, Marcus Wareing Restaurants

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Other 19th August 2014

Simon Jenkins is the Executive pastry chef at Marcus Wareing Restaurants.

*Please note Simon has since left Marcus Wareing and is now Director at SNJ - Patisserie

He has worked as a pastry chef at some of the most prestigious restaurants and hotels in the UK, including L’ortolan, The Waterside Inn, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons , hotel openings Coworth Park, and  Café Royal,  and as the Executive pastry chef for Gordon Ramsay Holdings before moving back this year to once again work with Marcus Wareing.  

Was it always pastry or did you start out in the kitchen? 

Pineapple
Pineapple

I’ve never cooked professionally on the savoury side. I left college having done everything from front of house to main kitchen. We did very little pastry but I really enjoyed it and decided to take that as my career path. I love the technical side of pastry, the detail, creativity and finesse. There are always so many elements to think about and I love pulling it all together.

Was L’Ortolan your first job after college?

Yes – and it was a baptism of fire!

Is that the job where you learned most of your groundwork in pastry?

I’d say the thing I most took away from L’Ortolan, apart from it being a completely crazy place to work, was creativity. Obviously you learn the basics of the job which you expect to and how to execute them consistently at that level but it really laid down the foundations for thinking out of the box and being truly creative. Back then John Burton Race was a real stickler for changing dishes, changing the menu, keeping it fresh, so you always had to be thinking one step ahead. You had to always be prepared for what the next dish was that you would look to bring onto the menu and in order to do that you had to be inspired and creative – or the boss would be on your back day and night!

Can you pick out some of the different chefs you’ve worked with and how they’ve inspired you?

I went from L’Ortolan to The Waterside with Michel Roux Snr, the main things that I started to learn and understand were on the tourier side – the doughs, croissants, that sort of thing. After that I went back to L’Ortolan I was asked to run the pastry, which had a huge influence on myself, my style and techniques today – it was my first role which saw me taking the first big step up in responsibility.

Lemon Meringue
Lemon Meringue

After that it was Le Manoir working under Benoit Blin which was very different for me,  Le Manoir as a large team, there were 12 of us. There was so much to see and learn, but what was really new and fresh was the tight organisation, man-management and how to formulate recipes properly from a managerial side.

How did the move to Marcus Wareing Restaurants come about?

After opening two consecutive five star hotels in my two previous roles, I was looking for something a little different. I’d worked with Marcus quite closely when he was with Gordon Ramsay Holdings in 2005-2007 and he was great to work with. Marcus is very focused as a chef and his passion and dedicated for getting the very best flavours out of every ingredient is hugely inspiring. 7 years down the line, I heard through a mutual contact that Marcus was looking for an Executive pastry chef to work across the group so I got in touch.

We met up, had a chat and it just kind of evolved from there. It was nice because there was already a foundation so it wasn’t like having to start with someone fresh and try to understand how they think and how they work. When I joined they were just finishing the massive refurbishment of Marcus at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge so it was a hugely exciting time to join the team and add some really exciting new dishes onto the menu.

What does your role involve across the group?

It is hugely varied as I am working across all three restaurants which in themselves offer three very different dining concepts. At Marcus it is two Michelin starred top-end dining so there is a huge amount of detail and skill going into the desserts there. I work closely with Marcus and Head Chef Mark Froydenlund to create inspired dishes which make use of the freshest seasonal ingredients available at the time.

Strawberry tarragon and fromage frais
Strawberry tarragon and fromage frais

At The Gilbert Scott, the dining concept is totally different to Marcus. It is an elegant British Bar and Brasserie which also offers a hugely popular afternoon tea - so the dishes I am creating there are a bit more relaxed with a focus on British ingredients – we always try and add in a quirky twist too. Then we have the new restaurant opening this September, Tredwell’s, which again is going to be very different to the other two Marcus Wareing Restaurants. We are still developing the menu’s there so my lips are sealed on what we will be serving for now – but all will be revealed soon!

Could you take us through a couple of desserts you’ve worked on recently?

At Marcus we have a very light and fresh fromage frais mousse wrapped in white chocolate with wild and English strawberries and dehydrated pistachio sponge on a tarragon gel and finished with strawberry and tarragon granites. The dish has a lovely texture and the flavours are amazing, the gel brings a zingy flavour of tarragon which perfectly complements the sweetness of the strawberries.

The two granites, one of strawberry and one of tarragon, have been frozen through liquid nitrogen so it goes to the table a little smokey and lovely and cold. Another one that I’ve been playing around with is a kind of ravioli of apricot; it’s fresh apricot which has been set in a very lightly cooked pate de fruit with vanilla then frozen in a half sphere. It is finished by being dipped in an apricot liquid made using veggi gel so when it defrosts it gives out a little bit and has the look of ravioli.

Apricot raviolli
Apricot raviolli

We serve this with stracciatella cheese which is dressed with a little vanilla and olive oil dressing, compressed nectarines with vanilla, finished with strudel crumbs, fresh almonds and a crème brulée ice cream. Fresh, light with real depth of flavour, it is perfect for summer.

With Marcus confirmed as the new judge on MasterChef: The Professionals, is there a chance of you becoming the new Monica Galetti?

Ha! I don’t think so… but who knows, I might get a cameo role at some point!

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Other 19th August 2014

Simon Jenkins, executive pastry chef, Marcus Wareing Restaurants

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