Why and when did you decide to become a chef?
I originally studied food and beverage management, so I always knew I wanted to work in hospitality. It was in hotels that I learned my love of food. I had a number of roles across the world in restaurants from South Africa to America, before opening my own Portuguese-African restaurant in 2010, Peri-Peri de Moçambique in Durban.
How long have you worked at Nobu Shoreditch?
I started my Nobu journey in 2018 as Chef de Cuisine at One and Only, Cape Town – home of Africa’s only Nobu restaurant. I then moved onto Sous Chef at Nobu Atlantis in Dubai in June of 2021. After three months I was moved to Nobu Istanbul Turkey to work alongside a different team and support activity in this busy restaurant. I was offered my dream role as Executive Chef of Nobu Hotel London Shoreditch in April of last year, and I haven’t looked back.
With fairly humble beginnings, it wasn’t always a dream of mine to work in Nobu, I only discovered the cuisine later in my life. I’d never even had Japanese food, let alone Japanese-Peruvian food before I dined at Nobu for the first time. I had no clue what to order, so went with the server’s recommendations. I was blown away by the knowledge of the team and the tastes and flavours of the food. It was then that I knew I had to work for Nobu. I still have to pinch myself when I cook for Nobu Matsuhisa himself.
What would you order from the menu at Nobu Shoreditch?
I honestly eat the Rock Shrimp with Creamy Spicy Sauce everyday – it’s my absolute favourite. It consists of tempura prawn, smothered in a creamy egg sauce, topped with chives and served on fresh crisp lettuce.
What is your favourite thing to cook at home?
Can I say 2-minute noodles? I’m kidding of course. I find I pour so much passion into the kitchen at work, when I get home, it is time to relax. My home cooking is all about simplicity. The freshest ingredients and the fasted prep time.
What could we expect to find in your refrigerator?
The three kitchen staples – butter, cheese and Champagne. All you need is a quick nip to the bakery to grab a fresh loaf and you have the finest, simple snack.
Name the three kitchen tools you can’t do without?
I have a Japanese knife that has been with me since the start of my career – I haven’t travelled anywhere without it. It was the thing I bought with my first pay check – it’s like a good luck charm. As well as a knife, you need a scale to sharpen it and a dessert spoon for serving.
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
Ever since living in London, I’m obsessed with fish and chips. Simple fish and chips with a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a light tartar sauce. I’m a big fan of Shoreditch Fish and Chips, and I go there more than I’d like to admit.
Which female chefs have inspired you in your career?
I don’t follow the careers of many chefs to be honest, but I do follow Dominique Crenn on Instagram and really enjoy her style. Her story and rise to the top, the skill she exhibits and her natural flair for cooking is very inspiring to me.
You’ve worked Internationally – from Dubai to Istanbul, to Shoreditch – where did you enjoy the most? Where would be your dream place to work?
My dream location to work has always been London, and now I get to say I’m living my dream. I love everything about it, minus the weather! I’d also love to work in the food-forward destinations of Vietnam or the Caribbean. I’ve visited before – I love the culture and laidback style of living. Ultimately though, my heart is in London – the diversity of people we serve is incredibly interesting.
More women need to be recognised in the food and hospitality industry. Sadly, there are still far more male than female chefs in kitchens across the UK today, but with more and more female chefs reaching the top of their game, things are improving slowly. Are you noticing the change, and do you think more can be done?
Here at Nobu Restaurant Shoreditch, my kitchen has more senior female chefs than male – not consciously or intentionally, but we are fortunate to have an abundance of female talent under our roof. Women are definitely becoming more prominent in hospitality and gaining the greater positions which is excellent to see. At the end of the day, when it comes to my kitchen, we are all equals, and the focus is on the quality and calibre of the food and the work we do.
Is sustainable cooking important to you and what do you think the future of food sustainability will look like in 10 years?
Sustainability is crucial – if we continue on the road we are on, we will have nothing left, so suitable change has to be made. Sustainable cooking has to be a big part of our lives, from home kitchens to restaurant kitchens. At Nobu Restaurant Shoreditch we are on this journey and work with a number of local suppliers to ensure the freshest seasonal ingredients with the smallest carbon footprint.
In 10 years’ time, I think we will see a lot more plant-based ingredients and most kitchens will move to adapting their menus to suit the seasons. A majority of ingredients will be sourced locally, and I think we may see a reduction in the amount of ingredients we have access too, so menus will need to be more creative to capture the attention of diners.
How do see the food scene changing in London?
The food scene in London is constantly adapting – that’s what makes it so interesting. I’m looking forward to exploring more of London’s food scene when I find a moment, as I haven’t fully explored yet as we’ve been very busy in the kitchen since Nobu Shoreditch’s reopening. I think in the future we will see more and more pop up style restaurants and cross collaboration between chefs and cuisines.
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a chef?
To work to the best of your ability, think less about the amount of time you work. You don’t need to work 20 hours a day to succeed. Instead, you need to ensure that when you are at work, you are fully present and putting the effort in relentlessly. That said, be prepared that chefs do work long hours. We don’t do the hours because we have to, we do them because we want to, and we are passionate about what we do.
NOBU FOOD CREDIT – Photo by @Lateef.photography-53
Favourite place to eat & drink in East London?
Aside from Nobu and NAMI of course, I love Dishoom and Pizza East. I’m also very obsessed with a little place called The Photobooth. It’s a friendly European-style café with a terrace. It’s run by Londoners and has great beer and live music. It’s a popular haunt for myself and the chefs post-shift.
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