Chris Arkadieff, executive chef at Strand Dining Rooms
Chris Arkadieff was born and raised in Australia where he gathered his first cooking experiences and won an Ansett “Best Apprentice Chef of the Year ” award. He was cooking on the exclusive Hayman Island in Australia, voted number two resort in the world, later he worked in Italy and did two stages in New York. He moved to London in 1999 to start working with Gordon Ramsay Group. After working first as sous chef and then head chef in London, he was in 2014 sent to Hong Kong to become the head chef for Gordon Ramsay’s group there. He is now head chef of the Strand Dining Rooms. He is also chef contributor to one of Prague’s leading food specialists Roman Vanek who wrote also a best selling cook book.
How would you introduce yourself?
I grew up in Australia on my family’s honey farm, working closely with ingredients and some of the best produce Australia had to offer. I have over 20 years of international cooking experience from Australia, USA, Asia and Europe.
What is your relationship with the pastry world?
I’m not a pastry chef by trade, however I have been fortunate enough to have worked with great pastry chefs. My introduction to the world of pastry began on Hayman Island Australia. We had our own, pastry, bakery and chocolate world at our disposal. Which was run by passionate European pastry, something very unique at the time.
What is your secret desire/ambition?
To search and find the best producers and suppliers for ingredients on my seasonal menu and to support these people to help grow my passion for cooking.
What is your ultimate dream?
My ultimate dream with my craft would be creating a restaurant/space where I can prepare and showcase the purest ingredients available, very similar to how my parents have collected and farmed honey over the past 60 years.
What is your greatest achievement?
Experiencing the number different cultures and cuisines around the world when it could have been easy to just remain in the one country, with that came the contacts and friendships.
What/who is inspiring you?
Nature and the environment in which we rely on. When we get comfortable or used to an ingredient, a challenge is layed and I have to alter my approach and thinking towards a dish. My parents and their commitment to producing the finest produce without impacting the land.
What do you love most about your work?
The ingredients, the seasons. The changes and challenges they bring.
What do you think is most difficult to master?
Remembering the rules, basics and classics which are the foundation of great cooking.
What are your favourite flavours?
Vanilla … I just can not get enough of the smell and taste.
What is your relationship with chocolate?
Short. As the industry has caught or taken a leaf out of the wine industry and now able to showcase and teach the unique qualities, aromas and flavours.
You have recently started using Cacao Barry chocolate. Which one is your favourite and why?
We are using the Cacao Barry Mexique chocolate as I love the roundness of the the flavour yet subtle in its delivery of it’s unique flavours.
Which chocolate desserts are are on your menu now and which are your favourites?
Our set menu changes weekly, our head pastry chef prepared a beautiful cold chocolate slice with spring berries lightly poached which allowed the chocolate and it’s characteristics to shine through.
What was the best chocolate dessert that you have eaten and where?
Tough question, I would have to say the cold chocolate fondant at Claridges was pretty good at the time.
What would be your final message for our readers?
Chocolate is complex, exciting and more versatile then you can ever imagine. It is like wine, full of aromas, flavors and uses beyond pastry!