The kitchen team at the Roslin Beach Hotel in Thorpe Bay
PUBLISHED: 15:45 01 August 2016 | UPDATED: 15:45 01 August 2016
The Roslin Beach Hotel in Thorpe Bay offers coastal cuisine with some quite spectacular views. Stephanie Mackentyre goes inside the kitchen to find out what inspires the kitchen brigade
Head chef Ross Caesar has been in charge of the brigade at The Roslin Hotel in Thorpe Bay since the end of last year.
‘I was sous chef when our head chef moved on,’ explains Ross. ‘It’s been brilliant being in charge, I haven’t looked back since.’
Ross looks after a team of 14 chefs and his management style is of calm professionalism. ‘I don’t think you really get the best out of people by shouting, although saying that there have been moments!’ adds Ross. ‘I try to lead by example and pull together to get the dishes out on time and looking good. You have to work so closely and for long periods of time together so you do form a close bond and that’s why we all pull together at the times when it gets really pressurised. You don’t want to let each other down.’
Ross always cooked as a young child, helping his mum in the kitchen, and so making a career out of his passion seemed an obvious choice. He still immerses himself in all things foodie. ‘I’m pretty much always watching the cooking programmes on TV. Marcus Wareing is probably my favourite. I drive my partner Rebecca mad as there’s always something to do with food on the telly.’
At home there’s no let up when it comes to a day off for Ross. ‘We share the cooking as we also have a two-year-old son at home. As parents we like to make sure he eats well, cooking for him ourselves to ensure he eats lots of fresh vegetables. Rebecca and Ross also like to eat out whenever time allows. ‘We tend to go to Rosette starred restaurants – Mary Green Manor is one of my favourites. I do take inspiration from other chefs, but sometimes I just really fancy a simple, well-cooked fish and chip supper.’
A large part of his role is menu creation. Ross likes to inspire the younger members of his team by asking for their input and using some of their ideas on the Roslin’s specials menu. ‘They get a real buzz from seeing their dishes on our latest menu and then at the end of the night they like to see whose dish has sold the most. It’s a great way to motivate younger chefs. This time of year we have lighter dishes on offer, plenty of salads of course and no heavy sauces, just plenty of fresh, seasonal vegetables and where possible locally-sourced ingredients.
‘Some customers will always go for the same dish and I have to bear that in mind when planning our next menus. For example currently our herb-crusted lamb is our most popular dish. We’d get rather bored if we had to cook it the same way night after night, so I keep it on the menu, but it evolves and changes with different accompaniments to keep the menu looking fresh and interesting.’
19 year old commis chef, Aaron Soderberg, is one of the newest recruits to the Roslin, joining the brigade 12 months ago. ‘My mum was a chef and I wanted to follow in her footsteps,’ says Aaron. ‘I also cooked at home a lot and I just fell in love with it.’ Aaron trained at South Essex College for three years and came straight to the Roslin. For a young man there’s plenty of late nights, which he takes in his stride. ‘I expected the hours that we work and I just really enjoy what I do. I work shifts and if I’m on a double I work from 9am and finish at 11 or 12 midnight, or I work from 9am and finish at 3 or 4pm. At the moment I’m trying to experience just as much as I can. I would like to experience different kinds of workplaces. I’d love to do fine dining in London, as that’s what I trained to do at college. I believe if you want to achieve as high as you can, you need to fully commit to the role.’
The chef who inspires him most is Ferran Adria, the owner of El Bulli restaurant in Spain. ‘He is the godfather of molecular gastronomy – he makes Heston look plain.’
In his first year Aaron has had a few moments during his training he’d rather forget. ‘The first month I was here I was put on the buffet and was just about to send it and realised I hadn’t turned over the page, so I’d only prepared half the food required. It made for an interesting 10 minutes in the kitchen!’
As a commis chef, Aaron works on larder, which means he’s preparing starters, platters and salads. Next he’ll move up to vegetables and garnish for all the main courses. ‘It’s mainly sous and head chefs who will work on the grill, but we do switch around quite a lot. It’s good experience and if someone needs help, I’ll happily jump on.’
As head chef, Ross is really enjoying being the leader and pushing things forward. ‘One of the best things about being a head chef is when you see the whole team arrive on time and happy to be there and we have a really good service.’