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Stef shares the secrets of sweet success

Rising TV star and one of Yorkshire’s top pastry chefs Stefan Rose is supporting Sheffield’s ‘Best Young Chef’ cook-off competition. Hosted at the beautiful My Fathers Heart showroom at Broadfield Court this month, Stef will also show us how it’s done under pressure and in front of judges and cameras.

As Head Pastry Chef for two of D&D London's restaurants- Crafthouse and Angelica in Leeds - and soon to be helping oversee the ‘sweet side’ of two more new restaurants opening soon in Leeds’ Victoria Gate, Stef has a lot on his plate!  We caught up with him to ask what it’s like for him behind the scenes.

Tell us about your current role.

My first responsibility is leading my team of pastry chefs, ensuring they all have the skills, training, equipment and the environment necessary to consistently produce great desserts. I create the dessert menus at both of our restaurants, source ingredients and equipment, and generally make sure everything is running smoothly.

What do you love about creating beautiful desserts?

Our guests have high expectations so we aim to exceed these and deliver a really high quality dining experience for them.  When they arrive at dessert I want them to thoroughly enjoy themselves. That’s the most important thing. It's not about showing off or surprising them - it’s about delivering absolutely delicious desserts which also look stunning.  Our open kitchen at Crafthouse means I can see into the restaurant; it’s very rewarding when guests smile and take photos of their desserts. But I seek deliciousness above everything else. I tend to stick to classic flavour combinations like elderflower and gooseberries, rhubarb and custard and strawberry and cream yet in modern and exciting ways. The refinement comes from the quality and freshness of ingredients, and the techniques applied.

What’s your greatest professional achievement?

I’d say my latest menu at Crafthouse is something special!  I am constantly trying to learn and improve so that each time I change the menu it’s better than the last.  Then I know I’m heading in the right direction. I’m thankful to be in a great kitchen with the right equipment, the right team and great support.

What’s it like to compete on national TV?

It’s very challenging and very rewarding. It really stretches you but you come out of it as a better pastry chef, thinking more critically about what you create and with a better understanding of the discipline required. I have learnt so much and met great people.

Which is the most satisfying kitchen that you’ve worked in?

I've worked in Michelin star restaurants and as a stagiere at Jason Atherton's restaurant Pollen Street Social in Mayfair where diners can watch the pastry chefs at work – it’s a brilliant idea. I also first used liquid nitrogen there which was pretty cool!

My Fathers Heart kitchens are carefully designed around each customer’s individual lifestyle answering a whole array of competing demands. But what do you think makes for a great kitchen design?

It's a nightmare working in a poorly designed kitchen.  You can lose so much time and end up in a real pickle that way. It should be designed just for you. That makes a huge difference to how much you enjoy spending time there and cooking. It should be efficient, well-spaced and have all the important pieces of equipment integrated into it including plenty of well organised storage. Having the best equipment means you can produce your best work and produce it consistently.

What would your advice be to the four young chefs competing at My Fathers Heart?

They’re in for a real treat competing in that environment.  I’d advise them to focus on sourcing quality ingredients as the building blocks to creating a great dish. Then concentrate on cooking everything precisely and getting as many layers of flavour and different textures as they can into their dishes but without over extending themselves and running out of time!

 

By Jonathan Coulthard02/05/2015
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