An Interview with Andrew O’Connor, Group Executive Chef/ Head of Food at The Brewery

 

 

  • Hi Andrew, can you tell us a bit more about you and your passion for food?

 

Growing up I always had a passion for food…. Both eating it and cooking it! I loved getting involved as a toddler at my nans helping her prepare all the fresh vegetables and watching how she put it all together…Isn’t that how all every good chef story starts?!  Fast forward a decade or so and I decided to get stuck into a kitchen as a career path. I managed to combine this with my love of travel and worked in various hotels around France and Greece bouncing between ski seasons and the sunshine for several years whilst progress my skills, knowledge and position in the kitchen. After many good years I decided it was time to come back to the U.K.

I’d always fancied the idea of working on the events scene and delivering customers a special experience so I joined a company where I could do just that. I spent 10 years catering from everything from small personal weddings to the Brit Awards, even feeding the royal family on several occasions. I ended my time as the Executive chef of a beautiful historic wedding venue in Hertfordshire. After several years here I just missed the buzz of London’s events scene. I was fortunate at the time that the Brewery were recruiting a Head Chef, I joined, things quickly progressed …the rest as they say is History’.

 

  • This past year has been unexpected and challenging, how are you and your team doing ?

 

We’re doing great, we’ve been able to keep the core of our team together and everyone has returned raring to go. We have always had a very close team of chefs at The Brewery and we’ve been looking out for each other and staying in touch to talk about food and share lockdown recipes. At times it has been really tough seeing the whole industry shut down for so long, but that has just made us even more motivated to come back with lots of exciting new dishes and concepts.

  • Is there any changes we are going to see at The Brewery or do you have a new approach towards the cuisine?

 

There was definitely plenty of time to reflect but we were already continually evolving and improving the product before the break, so we are determined just to keep on that path. We have taken the time to find some new suppliers and we are excited about some of the new ingredients and organic produce we now have available to us. Sustainability was something we were heavily focusing on and will continue to do so.

 

  • What exciting new food concepts can we expect to see at The Brewery this year?

 

We aren’t planning to introduce many new concepts until next year. Our focus for the remainder of 2021 will be on delivering the many events we have already booked. That may sound very simple but we are planning to have to be very adaptable in the short term as we are expecting lots of variety in how events are run to suit the needs of the ever changing situation we still find ourselves in. We will be working closely with our event organisers to make sure we are able to shape our menus and delivery to make guests feel comfortable returning to large scale events.

 

  • How can you describe the new seasonal menu?

 

Creating the new seasonal menus is a lot of work, we have to do all the development sessions and then once we have finalised the dishes we then have to write recipe cards and do all the boring stuff like costing them. This can take months and with The Brewery’s opening schedule, we didn’t have the team back early enough to go through this process, so we decided to have some fun. We spoke to the event planners at The Brewery and asked them what their favourite dishes over the last few years have been and we also looked back at some data to see what our clients had chosen. This allowed us to create a ‘Greatest Hits’ menu that features all of these favourite dishes that we have adapted slightly and we have also added a couple of new surprising ones. We can’t wait to start event tastings and introducing these dishes to our clients.

 

  • What is your favourite dish on the new menu ?

 

It is the BBQ sticky rice with Gochujang Puree, marinated tofu, crispy sambal cauliflower, pickled mung beans and pak choi (Recipe here) As we all know reduced meat consumption is increasingly at the forefront of sustainability issues worldwide. I have selected this dish as it showcases how delicious and visually appealing vegetarian food can be. I love South East Asian inspired Cuisine from my younger backpacking days, the food always offered a bold mix of flavours and textures and I just couldn’t get enough of eating all the different dishes from the street vendors.. Authentic simple cooking at its roots, you just can’t beat it! We have taken these influences and made this beautifully appealing dish as one of the vegetarian options for our new Autumn Winter 2021 menu. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

PS. Its easily adaptable to vegan too by substituting the small amount of milk and honey with vegan alternatives…the difference would be minimal in flavour.