A Passion For Modern Cooking
The new Head Chef of Harvey Nichols Birmingham STEWART MACKIE takes time out of his busy kitchen to share his passion for innovative cooking.
Running the busy kitchen at the luxurious Harvey Nichols restaurant has proved the perfect challenge for Stewart Mackie. Having worked his way up the ranks, the newly appointed Head Chef is excited to share his passions for modern cooking methods and the finest ingredients. We caught up with the talented 34-year-old to learn more about his favourite foods and which of his dishes go down well with the city’s most fashionable diners.
What inspired you to work as a chef?
I discovered my love for food while cooking with my mum and nan as a child. My nan was never seen without her electric mixer and her Victoria sponge was to die for; while my mum’s passion to try new recipes and methods inspired me to become a professional chef.
What’s your favourite food?
You can’t beat a roast beef dinner, obviously with all the trimmings, served with a great glass of red wine.
What are your passions when it comes to food?
I love being creative with ingredients and trying new recipes and then putting my own twist on them. I particularly enjoy working with pastry because I find it has a lot to offer in expressing yourself creatively.
What would be your dream meal on earth to eat and to cook?
I’ve always wanted to travel to Japan, for the food as much as the sights. There are so many local ingredients I’d love to try there, the food always looks amazing.
Do you use any modern cooking techniques?
Yes, at Harvey Nichols we use the French sous vide method for a growing number of our dishes. This means that we vacuum-seal food before immersing it in a water bath and then cook it at a very precise, consistent temperature. Over the last year we have also started to experiment with a lot of vegan alternatives as more and more customers ask for plant-based and meat-free.
What is your favourite kitchen tip?
I always insist on working in a clean and organised kitchen. If you’re surrounded by chaos, washing up and piles of dirty dishes then that reflects in the final dish.
What is your favourite piece of equipment?
That would have to be the Frima in our Birmingham restaurant. It’s such an amazing machine – it does everything from shallow frying and boiling to sous vide and deep frying and means we can create a whole range of exciting dishes using just one machine.
Do you like to cook at home, or do you turn off when you leave work?
Cooking is my life – I’m always cooking, whether that’s at home or in the work kitchen. My perfect dinner party menu would be scallops to start, beef wellington or sea bass as a main and definitely salted caramel chocolate fondant to finish.
What are the most popular dishes in the Harvey Nichols Restaurant?
Our diners absolutely love the classics – from our great-tasting burger and steamed mussels to our Sunday roast – but they are equally keen to try out new flavours. Chilli-roasted butternut squash with quinoa, pak choi, goats’ cheese and coriander and Stone bass with violet potatoes, salsify and clam chowder have proved very popular from our current menu. And we are looking at introducing a host of interesting new dishes to our Spring/Summer menu which is launching soon.
For more information on the Harvey Nichols Restaurant or to make a reservation, please call 0121 616 6028 or email [email protected] You can also book online at harveynichols.com.