Next chef to feature on our #HotList is Alex Harper, who reveals how his love for basic ingredients help craft his cooking style!
The art of deception is not a phrase that you often associate with cooking but it clearly applies here. Alex Harper’s food is deceptively simple, simply beautiful and stunningly tasty.
Alex makes it look easy but when you understand how much thought and eﬀort goes into something as basic as butter, then you know that his days at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons have helped craft his skill for seemingly eﬀortless beauty.
He credits his food vision not only on learning from his former mentors but also his genuine love and respect for even the most basic ingredients. The importance of provenance is strongly inﬂuenced by his days at the Manoir; and Brett Graham’s philosophy of using as much as possible from key ingredients like meat or game is clearly evident in Alex’s dishes. Hence the appearance of things like faggots and hearts in his dishes.
What surprises us is how he makes producing his own charcuterie sound simple; especially when you know that at his last restaurant, it was cured in a former wine fridge downstairs on the premises. In the country this would be an expected bucolic practice but in a city restaurant, it is inspiringly ingenious. Back to the butter, made by Alex from whipped Crème Fraiche, which is a mark of dedication to even the smallest detail that really tells in the tasting.
Alex is very conscious about dietary considerations. He aims to make his dishes accessible to all, so he believes that things like nuts, dairy & gluten should be ingredients that can be taken away without compromising satisfaction.
In his words he ‘doesn’t do ‘prissy’ food’. He prefers to let the key ﬂavours speak for themselves on the plate but he is also keen to make the visual impact as stunning as the taste. The evidence is plain to see.
What we ﬁnd so compelling about Alex’s philosophy is how much can be done within the conﬁnes of a restaurant; from the churning of butter, through the curing of charcuterie and the making of vinegars; not to mention baking bread.
Taking the love of raw ingredients and turning them into not only honest but beautiful dishes is something that is not easy but simply stunning.