Where has your culinary career taken you so far?
I started out as a young chef working in hotel kitchens and first joined a 5* establishment in 1996, when I was Sous Chef at the London Hilton on Park Lane. From there I went on to work under Anton Edelmann at The Savoy, The Landmark London and The Harrington Club. I then became Head Chef at the Woodlands Park Hotel in Surrey, where I gained and held two AA Rosettes for five years. My career took me to various other restaurants in London – notably including Babylon restaurant at Kensington Roof Gardens, owned by Virgin. It was during this time my team and I won several awards, and I regularly cooked for the Branson family too. I joined The Athenaeum as Head Chef this year and I am thoroughly enjoying the new challenge!
What is your food ethos?
Chefs can be tempted to create originality in their dishes by overcomplicating things, but my ethos is that simple is often best. Let fresh ingredients that are full of flavour speak for themselves. Then add an unexpected twist to keep things interesting!
What does a typical day involve for you at 116 at The Athenaeum?
Sourcing the very best seasonal ingredients is absolutely crucial to me, so I spend as much time as possible talking to suppliers from across the British Isles, finding out about their best produce. I check the ingredients when they arrive and design menus around them, so our guests get the freshest and most seasonal dishes without fail. I also train my team of chefs on the new dishes, as well as run the restaurant service and private parties.
What are your favourite summer ingredients?
English tomatoes have really come into their own in the last few years, with producers across the country growing the most incredible varieties. Sweet, juicy and rich in colour – summer salads, salsas and sauces come alive when English tomatoes are involved. I also love seasonal berries at this time of year. Strawberries are quintessentially English, but I also love raspberries, cherries and gooseberries.
How would you describe the dining experience at The Athenaeum?
It’s a relaxed and luxurious food experience. The care we put into sourcing the finest ingredients comes through in every dish.
Who is your dream dinner party guest and what would you cook for them?
I’ve been particularly influenced by Marco Pierre White throughout my career, so I would really enjoy having him over for dinner. I would cook one of the classics from his book, White Heat. It’s a book I come back to time and again, and it’s inspired many other chefs I know too.
To experience Ian’s culinary talents for yourself, click here to book a table at 116 at The Athenaeum.