Mark Jordan, executive chef, Ocean Restaurant, Jersey

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th September 2015
Last time we featured Mark Jordan, executive chef at Michelin-starred Ocean Restaurant, The Atlantic Hotel, Jersey, he had just opened Mark Jordan at the Beach – a concept which grew from Mark’s signature burger and now has a Michelin Bib Gourmand. Mark knew from school that he wanted to be a chef and his first job was with Keith Floyd. He has since worked with Jean Christophe Novelli and Albert Roux, who inspired him to create Michelin standard food. Taking on his current role in 2004, we thought it was about time we caught up with him and found out how he is juggling his own venture alongside his role at The Atlantic. Ocean Restaurant signature setting 1 How has Ocean Restaurant changed since we last spoke to you in 2012? It has gone from strength to strength. There have been a number of accolades including 'Best International Hotel' in the Food and Travel Reader Awards 2015 which is a huge achievement. We are ever developing, the menu changes for the summer and I’m just starting to think about bringing more autumnal dishes on to the menu, I have a number of signature dishes which we tend to stick to. Is it still the case that you source ingredients from the island? Yes, the only thing we struggle with is meat. Except for my signature dish of Jersey beef, which is local and farmed just for me, generally all of our meat is sourced off island. The fish and fruit and veg is from Jersey. We adjust the dishes so we can incorporate particular ingredients as they come into season so asparagus or Jersey Royals. The menu is led by the produce which is available there and then. It’s the fifth year for Mark Jordan at the Beach, what has it been like opening your first solo venture? markColour-5855Nerve-wracking! But it was opened with the idea the food would be based on what I like to eat, which is unpretentious and really good. It received a Bib Gourmand, which is the market it was aimed at. In the first year so to have Michelin’s approval was a phenomenal achievement. The owners of The Atlantic Hotel are partners with me however it has been such a learning curve having your own business. I have to wear two hats; at The Atlantic I’m executive head chef whereas at the Beach I’m an owner and I have to think about the entire operation. Was it always your aim to have your own restaurant? Yes, always. There were several occasions when I was back in the UK when I nearly did it but for one reason or another they didn’t happen. This one was the right time and the right place. It’s going from strength to strength, so much so we are looking for another one. We want to keep expanding the brand. Has the concept changed since you opened? No – it was aimed around my signature burger which I still do. There is a dish at The Atlantic which is assiette of beef, we have two cattle go to slaughter every week for this and what I can’t use on the assiette is made into the mince for the burgers at the Beach. There is a real link between the two and the ethos is still the same down there.Signature burger Talk us through the menu at the Beach. It’s all of my favourites from when I was a kid or dishes I’ve had on my previous menus at other restaurants; so piccalilli’s, crab mayonnaise, 30 hour braised short rib, horseradish mash and I’m just about to bring faggots and mushy peas back on the menu. It’s a classic which I used to do with Keith Floyd when I worked with him. Too many cafes or pubs are trying to be fine dining, losing their own identity – Beach has never lost that identity it started with that type of food and continues now. You say you are wearing two hats, how do you manage your time between both kitchens? 80% of the time I’m in The Atlantic because that’s where my star is and the Rosettes, the rest of the time I’m at the Beach. But that’s on paper! I’m at the Beach every day and I then go to The Atlantic – I’m a bit like a sheep, I just tread the same path. The Atlantic Panorama 1Do you enjoy moving between the two styles of cooking? Yeah I love it. The Atlantic comes with a lot of stress. I’ve got a much bigger brigade and more complicated dishes on so there’s a lot more pressure but it’s a good pressure and I really enjoy it. The Beach is a smaller brigade, completely different style but I find it harder there on a busy night! It’s because it’s a lot quicker, there’s less staff so it’s more pressured in a small time. The Atlantic is just as busy but a lot more technical and there are more boys to help. They are two very different places but they hit the market on both levels. You worked with Keith Floyd and Jean Christophe Novelli, do you still see their influence in your dishes now? I do, Keith taught me about regionality and the use of local ingredients; Christophe taught me to use flair and technical skills – I still make the same sauces as I did when I was with Christophe! Do you think that’s important as a young chef, to pick the right chef to learn under?  Asparagus_morel_egg_hollandaise_Mark Jordan 0304 small Most definitely. I had the chance to go and work under Marco and Ramsay, all of those, but I wanted to choose my own pattern. I would look through the Good Food Guide, pick the restaurants with the best scores and send a CV. Those days you were guaranteed you would get a job if you were coming from a good place so you could choose where you wanted to go. What drew you to Jersey? I didn’t know anything about Jersey before I came here! I had two options at the time when I took the job. I got to know all of the suppliers and I really got under the skin of Jersey. From the smallest tomato grower to the fish supplier; and before I knew it, 11 years later and I’m still here! I love it, it’s a phenomenal place – there are four Michelin star restaurants here on a nine by five island which is incredible. I have a lot of friends in the trade and they come over and are absolutely amazed by the range of fresh produce. You are hosting the first Eat Jersey Food Festival, where did the idea behind that come from? With the support of the GM and owners of The Atlantic, we developed the concept and now everyone wants to be a part of it. For the first one I wanted someone really charismatic and obviously Eric Chavot is, I’ve known him for ages and I thought let’s get him on board. I’ve known Michael Wignall for years and he has his two stars, I asked him and he bit my hand off! Adam Smith is doing good things at The Devonshire Arms – it’s a nice mix of people. We are doing two nights and it’s just a really good way of bringing chefs together. We intend to make this an annual event. MJ_Seared_Langoustine_28662 smallTalking chefs, are there up any coming ones who excite you at the moment? When you are younger you get turned on by a lot of things, the newest gadgets, the newest chefs but I’m going through a huge surge of self-development in myself.  I do love what Nathan Outlaw does! I appreciate what chefs are doing across the British Isles however I don’t necessarily follow them – I’m busy enough with my own two places! What about the industry itself, how do you think it’s changed since you first came into it? I think the industry has lost its focus, to a certain degree. There’s not enough individual people around, too many people are copying each other and many have forgotten about the fundamentals of cooking.  What works for Simon Rogan works for him or Heston his style works for him but it doesn’t mean it should be copied. Young chefs need to make their own way and develop their own style. I take guys on from the best kitchens, they come here and they can’t fillet a fish. The basics are being forgotten.

If you like the sound of Mark's role and want to work in the same kind of setting then head here for a whole host of head chef positions.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th September 2015

Mark Jordan, executive chef, Ocean Restaurant, Jersey