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Luxury Hospitality Magazine speaks with newly appointed Head Chef of Fenchurch, Sky Garden: Kerth Gumbs all about his new role and plans for the menu!

Firstly congratulations on your new role, talk us through what it is about Fenchurch you love the most?

Fenchurch is uniquely positioned to overlook some amazing views 37 levels up at the iconic Sky Garden. The restaurant offers creative and exciting fine dining without stuffiness or stiffness and more accessible casual bites are also available on the Fenchurch terrace menu too.

Talk us through your journey into the industry. You have an impressive portfolio, what has been the highlight of your career so far?

A key highlight of my career so far had to be winning my heat on Great British Menu 2020, representing London and the south east before going on to make the feast at the banquet to celebrate150 years of children’s literature.

You have recently been announced as one of the judges for BBC Three’s new Young MasterChef, what are you looking forward to most about this?

This is a fantastic way to meet and inspire the younger generation while introducing them to hospitality. It’s also great to be given the opportunity to help encourage and inspire these young cooks who are at the beginning or end of college and looking to start a career. I feel this is the best time to engage refreshing hospitality.

What is your signature cooking style?

I would say my style is playful yet modern and refined. I enjoy elevating ingredients through international techniques.

Talk us through plans/ideas you have for the menu

At Fenchurch, you’ll have a choice of the à la carte menu which utilizes the best seasonal produce or a tasting menu which lends itself more towards my culture and background, highlighting the humble ingredients through reimagined dishes of the Caribbean region which I grew up eating.

Talk us through your process of creating a new dish

Ok this is a bit of a long one, but it’s one that I readily share with my chefs in hopes of helping them through a creative process. There’s many different ways a chef may use to come up with their ideas and creations but for me my approach is as follows;

  • I think of the flavours or the compatibility of the ingredients I wish to put together and look at the different flavour profiles whether that be sweet, savoury, salty and so on
  • Then, I think of each individual ingredient separately and then together in harmony with one another, exploring the creative and interesting aspect of experimentation and which often results in a great combination which can possibly showcase umami notes.
  • Then, I think of textures & techniques to be applied to those individual flavours & ingredients whether than be a purée, crisps, foams, jellies and gels, raw ingredients, ceviche, mouse, caramelized, crumbs, sous vide ingredients and so on
  • Once I have the contrast of colours, flavours and textures in place – it helps paint a picture of the mood of the dish whether that be vibrant, abstract, organic yet elegant and once I’m happy with the outcome
  • Then, I think of a suitable plate and reflect on the previous steps and refining, tweaking the recipe whilst exploring different presentations
  • Finally, I taste everything, and share the plate with my team to discuss, and look to revisit again until I have the perfect and balanced finished product.

The questions and ifs you must ask yourself are:

-Is it achievable from your surroundings?

-Will it be consistent and deliver in taste, regardless of who has prepped the dish, cooked it and whether it’s served for 30 or 70 covers?

That’s my process and what I like to encourage in my team.

Tell us why we need to come down and try the menu at Fenchurch!

Served 37 storeys up against a backdrop of spectacular city views from London’s highest public garden, my new and theatrical tasting menu looks to combine the best British ingredients with Caribbean flavours and influences from my Anguillan heritage to create an exciting fine dining experience. So I would definitely recommend visiting for the food, views and fantastic service. Our location delivered on all fronts when it comes to what you look for when eating out. My food at Fenchurch has taken shape with a variety of dishes with interesting flavours across the al carte an the tasting menu, from starters straight through to desserts. I’m happy to welcome you all to try it for yourselves!

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