Welcome to the team Maarten! Where have you joined us from?
I’m joining from The Savoy, where I was Executive Sous Chef for over two years. It was a great two years, everything at The Savoy is bespoke and themed, and as you can imagine, very busy and high profile. Now I’m ready for a new challenge and see lots of opportunities at The Grove with its layout and gardens, I think we can be really creative.
Where did you work before that?
My first experience in the kitchen was actually in an upmarket cafe in Sydney, Australia where I fell in love with the buzz of kitchen service and being part of a team. From there I moved to a more fine dining restaurant in Sydney and realised that was what I wanted to do. My next step up was working at The Ritz Carlton hotel in Spain where I got to work with and learn from Martin Berasategui, a very prominent Spanish chef. Upon moving back to the UK, I worked at the three-rosette Odette’s in Primrose Hill where I loved their ethos of seasonal, produce-led food and classic dishes with playful twists.
I then wanted to further my skills by learning more about the business and management side of hospitality so I joined The Landmark hotel, working there for 6 years in total, working my way up to Chef Patron. From there I moved to The Wolseley in Piccadilly as Executive Chef before joining The Savoy.
What are your passions when it comes to food?
I’m very passionate about the provenance of food and working to source ingredients from small artisan producers that are as sustainable and local as possible. I love how in Spain the food is so simple but incredible – and it’s the same in Italy in France. It’s simple in terms of cooking but the hard work is done in sourcing the ingredients. If you look at the way they shop, it’s still in markets, getting certain supplies from certain people and weekly shops take days not an hour around the local supermarket.
What else would you like to see change within the industry?
There is still a lot to do with the way we work as chefs, the hours are very long and the next generation are not going to want to deal with that. I’m a strong believer in modern management techniques, dismantling traditional hierarchies and outdated kitchen practices to encourage young talent. Climate change and intensive farming are also important issues that need addressing.
What is your cooking style?
I like to cook with amazing produce and use garnishes to heighten them but not overpower, essentially letting the ingredients speak for themselves. I also try to avoid any food waste, for example, by using every part of the meat. I’m very hands on, I love running classes and working alongside other chefs during a service.
What are your aims for your new role?
We have already started doing this at The Grove with the new concept at The Stables, but I want to work with more small artisan producers. This can be a challenge with hotels as there is such a high volume for them to meet.
As leader of the culinary team, I want to support, inspire and help each chef to both achieve in their current role and grow into new positions. I’m a big believer in holding others up to let them shine and not sticking to traditional hierarchies. I want to make sure that for anyone joining The Grove, there is a career journey ahead of them.
Overall I want to make sure that The Grove is progressive and keeps getting better and better, it’s important to me that we keep changing and never stand still. Like I said before, there’s so much opportunity here and I’m very excited to keep surprising our guests and bringing the wow factor.