'I'll never forget the day I decided to become a chef'

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Ill never forget the day I decided to become a chef

Tête-à-tête with Gary Rhodes, celebrity chef, Rhodes W1 (Grosvenor House) & Rhodes Twenty One (Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa)

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Published: Fri 18 Aug 2017, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 18 Aug 2017, 2:00 AM

Your favourite memory of food.
Steamed lemon sponge with lemon sauce! I remember it so clearly: I was just 13 years old and I decided to cook it for my family. Their facial expressions and responses were priceless, particularly when I turned it out of the bowl and poured the lemon sauce over it - I'll never forget it. The room was filled with a citrus perfume and it was at that point I decided to become a chef!

What's the most challenging part of your job?
These days, one of the most challenging parts of any head chef's job is finding young enthusiasts who truly understand the determination and dedication that comes with a culinary role. It is a lifelong commitment and something I would never change.

Do you have a personal mantra or motto that drives the way you cook food?
Some years ago, I read an anonymous quote that has stuck with me and still drives me today: "The road to success is always under construction".

If you could cook for a high-profile personality, who would it be and what would you want to serve them?
I've always wanted to cook for the ex-President of the United States, Bill Clinton. I'd cook him something very classic and British: braised oxtails with creamy mashed potatoes, followed by bread and butter pudding.

How often do you eat out? What's your favourite place around town?
I try to eat out at least once a week and have a few favourite places in Dubai. There's Zuma at DIFC, Buddha Bar at Grosvenor House and, for a tasty local Italian, Bussola at The Westin, Mina Seyahi.

After cooking all day, do you cook for yourself at home too?
Actually, my wife Jennie does most of the cooking at home - she's a great cook! However, I do insist on cooking fish at home, along with simple risottos.

You're asked to invent an unusual dish - what would it be?
How about a dish I have made several times? It's slightly unusual but with a flavour I really enjoy: sweet pea hummus. It's sweet peas cooked, podded and puréed, then added to hummus (75% sweet pea purée, 25% hummus). It's the richest of greens in colour and has a naturally sweet finish in flavour.

Who do you admire most in the culinary world, and why?
I admire the Roux brothers in the UK. Chef Albert and Michel Sr are culinary artists I've followed throughout my career with pure admiration and love for both. I like to consider myself a genuine friend of the Roux family now. Their sons, Michel Jr and Alain, are also incredible chefs who I stay in touch with and follow with utmost respect.

Favourite comfort food?
That would be a bowl of Heinz tomato soup with lots of good crusty bread!

One ingredient/ dish you can't stand, and why.
The one ingredient I cannot stand is tripe! It makes me feel nauseous. I've tried braising it for hours and hours, hoping the flavours will evolve but they don't - it's still VILE!

If you could choose a last meal, what would it be?
My last meal would probably be the one I'd cook for Bill Clinton, something nostalgic and homely. I wouldn't really care if the oxtail gravy splashed all over my shirt, as I'd be too busy enjoying the tender rich flavours, as the meat falls away from the bone.

What is your favourite culinary destination, and why?
My favourite culinary destinations are Italy and France, two countries that offer great styles of food and incredible quality ingredients to go with. One of my truly favoured places to eat is the Guy Savoy restaurant in Paris - three Michelin stars and the man is a total food genius. I've eaten there seven times and hope to add many more visits over the years to come.
- Staff reporter

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