FROM APPRENTICE TO CHEF
Gordon Ramsay and Gareth Packham
“During the nine years weGareth Packham, Chef of maze Grill
had been working together,
he always saw my potential,
strengths and weaknesses. He
makes me a better person.”
Interviewing the young chef Gareth Packham has completely changed my impression of the world- renowned chef Gordon Ramsay with three Michelin stars.
– At the entrance of maze Grill where we will meet Gareth, the portrait of Gordon came to my sight, reminding me of the his harsh, blunt yet humorous and perfectionist image in his cooking shows.
– How does Gordon relate to maze Grill? This restaurant has already had three branches in the UK, while the one at Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui is the first branch overseas. Although it is not directly run by Gordon, the restaurant Chef Gareth once studied under him. Therefore, he fully understands and holds the same standard of Gordon in terms of the ingredients and cooking technique. No wonder maze Grill has attracted attention from different industries soon after its opening as everyone would like to give it a try.
– Entering the restaurant and passing the bar area, the waitress led us to our seats. Burgundy in colour, the semi-circle sofa exemplifies a strong modern style of England. Facing the floor-to-ceiling windows, you may enjoy an impeccable view of the Victoria Harbour. Apart from the indoor area, there are also seats outdoors which are perfect for having drinks with friends.
– An appetizing “London Fog” was presented to us. Just like its name, the drink appears to be foggy like mist. As you take a sip, your palate will be imbued with the aura of gentlemen – Earl Grey tea, milk, Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky and homemade candied walnut sherry.
– A moment later, a young man in his chef lobe came to me, and I guessed that he must be Chef Gareth. Curiosity was aroused as he took his seat, and I asked, “Why would you be so determined to be a chef at 16?”
– Gareth recounted: “In retrospect, I wanted to be a mechanic instead of a chef and since my uncle was also a mechanic, I wanted to follow his path. Later, as I took a catering course and worked in a restaurant for two weeks, I became more interested in cooking. Though I finally got an offer for a Mechanics degree, I decided to choose to be a chef as my career.”
– “You were recruited by Gordon’s restaurant when you were 22. How did that happen?” The delectable cocktail did not stop my curiosity.
– “There was a friend of mine who always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Out of the blue, I was devastated as I learnt about his sudden death. After his funeral, I drank a bit and I sent my resume to Gordon’s Group.” Gareth continued.
– After Gareth’s story, the waiter served us with the slow-cook confit duck and watermelon salad. Gareth sliced the duck meat and stirred them with the salad. I stood aside watching this process and the smell of the savoury duck meat became irresistible to me. While this appetizer seems to be ordinary, it takes a lot of effort to prepare. Before frying the duck, it has to be pickled for 12 hours and slow-cooked for another 12 hours for making the meat tender and with a suitable level of saltiness. Indeed, while the crust of the duck meat is crispy, the meat inside is incredibly tender. Sided with watercress, lotus chips, watermelon, pomegranate and cashew, this dish gives you a rich flavour that brightens your day.
– “Congratulations on your dream come true,” I continued, “From television programmes like Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef, people consider Gordon a harsh and blunt person with an extremely high standard on cooking. Did you have any hard feeling when you worked with him?”
– “Gordon is a very passionate person,” Gareth continued, “He has been really hard- working. During the nine years we had been working together, he always saw my potential, strengths and weaknesses. He makes me a better person.” Chef Gareth admires and respects Gordon from the bottom of his heart.
– Talking about Gordon, the signature dish of Beef Wellington springs to my mind. The golden crust wraps the mash potato and beef. If you cut it in half, you will find the meat tender and pink. The dish is arguably a perfect masterpiece with its crispy pastry whereas the layer of mushroom duxelles maintains its texture and rich flavour inside. It is in fact a big challenge for a chef to prepare a Beef Wellington with clear layers and without getting soaked.
– The last dish is a delightful dessert – Coconut and Dark Chocolate Cremeux. Silky and creamy, the chocolate mousse immediately melts in your mouth. Together with the passion fruit sorbet inside, the sour and sweet flavours perfectly balance the delicate chocolate mousse. With the candied walnuts and brandy crisps aside, it is the biggest temptation to your palate.
– From this interview with Chef Gareth, I was deeply impressed by his passion for cooking. No wonder his talents were recognized by Gordon and he was appointed as the Chef of maze Grill.
maze Grill Hong Kong
Shop OTE401, Ocean Terminal Harbour City Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
(852) 2765 0890