The Grillroom & Sushi Bar’s Head Chef, Jamie Sutherland has 36 years cooking experience under his toque with a formidable career that has taken him across kitchens in Europe, Asia and Africa. We asked the UK-trained chef a few questions:
Can you tell us about The Grillroom and Sushi Bar menu offering? I designed the menu with a variety of different influences that would allow my work experience within the industry to shine through. Some of the dishes date back to when I just started in the industry back in the highlands of Scotland, others from my 20 years working in and around London – from a French Brasserie to Loch Fyne Seafood Restaurants. Also added to the mix are my 12 years in South Africa and my time in the Middle East which gave me a taste for taste grilled dishes and hearty family favourite dishes.
How do you bring training and mentoring into the workplace? Every day is a learning day in the kitchen; if a chef says they know everything, then they’re either a liar or very arrogant! We work as a team at The Grillroom & Sushi Bar, so when it’s time for a new menu item we get together and discuss the new dishes, then start with writing the recipe, ordering the new ingredients, preparing the dish from scratch, plating the dish and finally tasting and agreeing if we have a winner. Then I also give the chefs the opportunity to come forward with new dishes, dishes that they maybe have tried at home or with friends – I find that this helps their self-confidence.
Looking back on your career, what were some of the biggest learning moments you had that have informed the type of chef you are today? As a young chef doing my apprenticeship in Scotland, I worked under a chef who cooked amazing food but was a bully to the junior chefs and front of house team. I realised very quickly then that I never wanted to be that type of chef, so I left. My old chef took me back and it was then that I realised what I had missed in the three months that I worked at the other hotel. Chef John was the complete opposite, as he always made time for the whole team and would pull us aside and show us new dishes and techniques. I vowed to be just like him when I ran my own kitchen and to this day I’ve strived to do just that.
What has the proudest moment in your career thus far been? I’d say being given the opportunity at The Grillroom & Sushi Bar to develop the menu and help expand the group has been my proudest moment. It’s very humbling to have the owners and the executive team put so much faith in me.
What are some of the ways that you’ve been boxing clever to lessen the effects of the pandemic in your restaurant, when it comes to the ban on alcohol, curfew and budget constraints of guests*? The kitchen team has been split into two different groups, A and B. Due to the curfew, the team must leave the restaurant by 8pm every night, so group A works for one week from 10am until 8pm whilst group B is on paid leave, then we swap them around the following week. We have also put together a light lunch menu, a sushi platter menu and a bar snack menu that are cheaper options to our main menu. These are available all day from 11am until last orders at 6:30pm. In addition, we have introduced a large variety of non-alcoholic beers, ciders and mocktails.
*Editor’s note: the interview was conducted before the lockdown restrictions were loosened.