Q&A with The Petersham Restaurant head chef Jean-Didier Gouges

Jean-Didier Gouges head chef at The Petersham in Richmond (Photo by Simon Eldon)

Jean-Didier Gouges head chef at The Petersham in Richmond (Photo by Simon Eldon) - Credit: Archant

Previously the private chef to the Mauritian president, Jean-Didier Gouges became head chef at The Petersham Restaurant in Richmond’s Petersham Hotel in October

Has it been a challenge taking on a recently refurbished restaurant?

It was a bonus when I heard it had been refurbished. It’s really beautiful decoration – keeping classic and modern twists.

Are you enjoying the chance to show off your skills as a chocolatier?

I learned how to be a chocolatier for my own experience. I do it my own way – I learned the basics, and from there the sky is no limit. It’s helped me develop and see food in a different way – to create something unique.

What inspired you to become a chef?

My grandma and mum are really good cooks. I remember I asked my mum for my favourite biscuit – my mum said I had eaten one already. I told her one day I would know how to make them myself – it all started from there.

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What advice would you give to a young chef just starting their career?

Respect the kitchen and the kitchen will respect you. Cooking is all about love.

What is your ethos?

Be happy with what you put on the plate, and the people you are serving will be happy – it will be reflected on the plate, and people will enjoy it.

How do you source your ingredients?

I work closely with suppliers, get to know them and how they respect their product. They hope to see their product on the plate look like a work of art.

Do you have a signature dish?

At the moment we have a mandarin cheesecake – it looks like a mandarin, with three different chocolates including a mousse inside the skin and edible soil. There’s a lot of technique. I like taking the classic and making it modern.

Which career achievement are you most proud of?

I think the biggest achievement of my career was working for the president of my country.

The Petersham Restaurant has just launched a fine wines by the glass list. For more information visit The Petersham in Nightingale Lane, Richmond, TW10 6UZ. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. 0208 939 1084; petershamhotel.co.uk/restaurant


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