Sam Harrington-Lowe caught up with Alan White, executive chef at The Grand Brighton, to find out what ticks his food boxes…
Title: Tell us what you like to eat when you’re off duty
Alan: I’m a sausage and mash man actually. So if I cook at home, it’s sausage and mash. If I was cooking for a dinner party, I’d do a lobster, so maybe lobster thermidor, lobster linguine, something a bit different.
T: What did you have for breakfast?
A: Two Weetabix, marmite on bread and half a grapefruit. I have that every day.
T: What’s the thing you’re most proud of?
A: Well it’s not my cycling proficiency… it’s a difficult question that one. I think the thing I’m most proud of is just being a chef. About making memories for people who go out and dine, whether it’s a snack, a soup, a room service sandwich, a selection of shellfish or a banquet for 500.
T: Did you always want to be a chef?
A: Yes, right from an early age. At 14 when I needed to do my options, there was a TV show on Channel 4 called ‘Take Six Cooks’ and that was the inspiration behind it. And after that I just gave everything else up.
T: What word(s) annoys the hell of you?
A: ‘Done it.’ It happens all the time. In the kitchen I ask if something’s been done and they say yeah, done it. And then I find they haven’t; that happens a lot. That really annoys me.
T: Sum yourself up in three words…
A: Passionate, fun and caring.
T: Where next for Alan?
A: When I came here this was a five year plan and I had my sights set on maybe Dubai. So maybe that’s still on the horizon, but I’m really lucky to have this job here, and to have held it for 10 years. I have appraisals with Andrew (Mosely, the Grand general manager) and he cuts you so much slack to express yourself, and tries to find out what it is that excites you. It’s hard to leave!
T: Are you a bit of a Gordon in the kitchen?
A: I’ve got 25 prima-donnas in there who all think they’re better than each other. I’m hard but fair, and I also like it to have a bit of fun about it. People like Gordon Ramsay treat everyone the same, and I’ve got guys in there that can take a bo***cking and some that I need to put my arm around.
There’s some I can give a dressing down to in front of other people, and others need that one to one for them to respond; and it’s about trying to find how they respond, for me to get the best out of them all of the time. They’re individuals and I just cannot treat them all the same.
T: If you were Mayor of Brighton & Hove…
A: I’d make everybody eat out once a week, for at least one night!