Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower Steaks
Our Head Chef, Ian Howard, shares his favourite meat-free dish – perfect for summer feasting and mixing up lockdown meal times if you’re in the mood for something a little lighter.
13th January 2020
Give us a snapshot of your career so far.
My career began 24 years ago in Catania, a wonderful city in Sicily, in which I had the chance to serve many VIPs from across the world. I gained a lot of work experience over the years in the north of Italy too, the most memorable being in Tuscany, where I had the pleasure of meeting great people and working with an amazing team. However, I was still looking for some new experiences and I decided to come to England for a short period of work experience. That was more than 10 years ago now!
Where has your time in England taken you so far?
I first started working in Hampshire, in a beautiful hotel in the middle of the forest. A memorable moment there was when I had the pleasure of preparing hundreds of cocktails for Jamie Cullum and Sophie Dahl on their wedding day. After a year in Hampshire, I moved to a hotel in London’s Liverpool Street. One day, my Food and Beverage Director called me to his office. I wondered what I’d done wrong! But he took out a magazine from his drawer and showed me a picture of me serving champagne during a special event we had organised for the English soap, Coronation Street. I joined The Athenaeum this year, and I already know I’ll have another wonderful chapter in life here.
Which VIP guest sticks in your mind?
One guest I’ll never forget is Catherine Deneuve, on the day of the Cine Festival in Taormina. She was stressed as she was surrounded by a lot of paparazzi who wouldn’t leave her alone. She came over to me and said: “Please, make me a drink before I freak out!”
Why did you want to become a mixologist?
I’ve been in love with this job since I was a kid. I spent my summers in my godfather’s hotel in Greece and the bartenders were amazing. All the guests were mesmerised by them, like it was a magic show. I knew then that was what I wanted to do with my life!
What’s your idea of the perfect cocktail?
The perfect cocktail must have the most important ingredient – your heart! All cocktails can be perfect if made with love.
What trend are you most excited by in the world of mixology at the moment?
Today’s trend is definitely sustainability. It’s been a global issue for a long time and it’s great to see that more and more bars are actively looking to reduce waste. For instance, we’ve stopped using plastic and we are also using more edible garnishes now.
How would you sum up the experience of having a drink at The Bar at The Athenaeum?
The bar is cosy, elegant, professional and creative – almost like spending time in the pages of a story book.
Who is your dream guest and what drink would you serve them?
My dream guest would be Freddie Mercury. I would offer him a sparkling cocktail I call The Catanian Sunset. Freddie loved champagne, so I think he would have really enjoyed it.
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