This month we meet one of the new arrivals in our kitchen, Chris Lawrenson. Famous for his beautifully presented dinners, and Turkish eggs… no goldfish were harmed during this interview. Just ask Oscar.
Jennie Cockcroft: How long have you been at the Møller Centre and what did you do before?
JC: What are the main aspects of your current role?
CL: As sous chef I have the enviable task of managing the kitchen porters on a day to day basis. I also help Alex and Simon run the kitchen during prep time and service. I also am involved in menu planning and ordering.
JC: What do you enjoy most about your role here?
CL: Writing menus and cooking for the set dinners is a lot of fun. Recently Alex and I worked on the board dinner together and I really enjoyed the whole process from planning the menu to buying new crockery and finally presenting the dinner itself.
JC: What is the hardest part of your day?
CL: Waking up at 05:00 for an early shift. I’ve never been a morning person.
JC: What is your favourite thing to cook?
CL: Beef wellington is my favourite dish to cook (and eat).
JC: What chef secrets can you share when it comes to throwing a successful dinner party, and preparing a meal?
CL: Get a takeaway! No seriously, the best dinner parties I’ve been to and hosted myself have involved getting my friends to do some cooking too. I once got all my friends to bring some fish to my house and we all made sushi together. One of my friends wasn’t keen on fish so he filled his nori with Parma ham and crisps. It was a really fun night.
JC: What advice would you give to your younger self?
CL: I don’t think my younger self would have listened to me even if I did have advice to give. However I would have told him that no matter how tough things seem at the time everything has a way of coming right in the end.
JC: What challenges have you overcome? Any funny stories?
CL: Most kitchen stories tend to be too indecent for publication. Once though as a young chef de partie I was unfortunate enough to work with a pretty lousy sous chef. One morning I came into work right in the middle of a busy breakfast shift which my sous chef was running. He had under his wing a meek little chap called Oscar who was our work experience lad for the week and had never stepped foot in a kitchen before, let alone been left in charge of cooking for 80 hungry guests during a busy Saturday breakfast. My sous chef however had other ideas and had left poor little Oscar in charge of the pass, plating all of the breakfast whilst he ran around trying to get bacon and sausages cooked. As I arrived I asked my sous “if there was anything I could do to help?” His reply was, “ask Oscar”.
Well! I took one look at poor Oscar who was shaking and frozen to the spot with a mixture of fear and shock. The poor boy had no idea how he had found himself in this situation. He looked like a rabbit in headlights. Needless to say me and couple of other guys stepped in, rescued breakfast and relieved Oscar from his temporary position as chef in charge. From that day forward though, if ever someone asked any question in that kitchen again, the reply was always “ask Oscar”.
JC: Where would you like to be in 3 years’ time?
CL: Running my own little bed and breakfast on the side of a mountain in the Alps. The kind of place where I can get as much skiing, eating and drinking done as the guests. I don’t think 3 years is achievable though. Let’s say 10.