Island Life Magazine Ltd February/March 2007 - Page 68

life - FOOD & DRINK 8 years of rosette success! Being awarded two AA rosettes for most restaurants is an achievement, but holding onto them for 8 years running is sheer hard work and dedication, we talk to Head Chef Alan Staley from The Royal to find out what his secret is. We all know chefs are like camiliens, they change jobs more times than a camilien changes colour. How many times have you been to your favourite restaurant only to find your much loved chef has moved on! Well not at The Royal, Ventnor. For 10 years now Alan Staley, 36 (Head Chef ) has been slaving away in the kitchen producing some of the Islands most acclaimed food. Alan who started his career on a local YTS scheme quickly moved his way up the ladder. After obtaining his professional qualifications Alan worked in top places such as, The Savoy where he was proud to work under Anton Edelmann also the QE2, and Chewton Glen in the New Forest which was voted the best hotel in Europe, and still to this day boasts 5 Red Stars. So the grounding was there, and a new challenge was looming. Alan decided to a call a catering agency in Kent who then put him in touch with William Bailey at The Royal. Alan at the time wanted to return to the Island as this is where he had grown up, and went to school. 68 Alan said “I arrived at the Royal and it was like something out of a 70’s sitcom, it was awful. I don’t know how William convinced me to this day to come and work for him, although I could see that he was genuine and his plans for the hotel sounded good, so I took the gamble and joined the team as a sous Chef in the summer of 96. I spent 2 years as a sous chef up until the point the head chef decided to move on, at the time we had one rosette. I remember being so happy the day William asked me if I would like the position of Head Chef. Em, let me think about it, I’m joking, I snapped up the opportunity.” Alan spent the next two years building his team, “your team is very important, both William and I have a policy that we only take on trainees, we have not got room for prima donnas in our kitchen, we have a great working atmosphere, none of this swearing, shouting and throwing things. By taking on trainees we can train them to our way of doing things, it makes the day to day running of the kitchen much easier.” During the summer months Alan can cater for up to 100 covers a night, all at 2 rosette standard. “It’s funny how food trends change I look back now to what I was doing 2/3 years ago and cringe, I like the current trend which is back to basics, my favourite dish I suppose is a freshly caught seabass from Blakes, new potatoes and in season vegetables, you cannot beat it. I have a wonderful working relationship with William and that’s very important, I think that’s a large part of our success.” Finally we asked Alan where he thinks a lot of restaurants go wrong nowadays, “they all try and over complicate dishes with sauces and flavours, my advice is keep it simple, and use fresh ingredients.” What is your favourite restaurant on the Island? “It has to be The George in Yarmouth.” And his final word is “Trainee chefs, give me a call.” Sponsored by - www.holidays2remember.co.uk