Posted by Lockhart Catering on Tuesday 09 July 2019
In the Lockhart spotlight is National Chef of the Year 2018 finalist, Glenn Evans
We welcomed Las Iguanas Head of Food & NCOTY finalist, Glenn Evans to our London Innovation Centre recently...
During 2019, we've been proud to welcome some of the UK's most up and coming chefs into the Lockhart Innovation Centre. This includes National Chef of the Year winner, Kuba Winkowski, runner-up, George Blogg and finalist, Nick Smith. Recently we were delighted to welcome a chef who truly caught our eye in the NCOTY final for his passion and determination. Glenn Evans showed us his inspiring style of cooking whilst revealing more about his career so far.
I left school when I was 16 and was unsure what to do but I knew I didn't want to continue with further education. My mum was working at a local hotel and I did some work portering and silver service. The head chef approached me and asked if I wanted a trial in the kitchen telling me that if I did well he'd offer me an apprenticeship. Thankfully the trial was successful and I was with this company for over four years, working my way up to chef de partie. The chef had full autonomy of the menu and it was classically British food but with French techniques which gave me a great stepping-stone to learn new culinary skills. I learnt how to drive so my options were more open. My next move was into contract catering with Compass using great produce for Restaurant Associates, this gave me the option of doing fine dining within the foodservice sector.
This was a role that I loved and worked at for seven years, with a few sabbaticals whilst I helped my mum with her new hotel in Paignton for example. After this I went back to Compass and did theatre cookery; travelling around restaurants and showcasing menus that fit with their theme. I loved that job too as every day was different and I went into many different kitchens, cooking my own food and selling my food ideas for lunch service. It was around the time of Jamie Oliver's “turkey twizzlers” campaign with Scolarest, so I got involved with a 'putting the fun back into food' initiative where we helped teach kids the importance of nutritional food and healthy eating; working with parents and children to change cultures.
Following this, M&S chose Compass as their contractor to run hospitality. It was an exciting time as I was involved in ensuring the recipes would work and that the chefs on site were trained with the right procedures in place. That was how I got into food development properly. My next role was for Reynolds Food Services who look after a lot of Casual Dining, QSR and Grab & Go. The best thing about that job was being able to showcase a massive variety of food, but also being taught to really understand your consumer. This was a huge part of that job; whether it was seasonal or trend-led, it was so important to understand what people wanted and that's what I learned.
The next move for me was as head of food for Las Iguanas starting with 35 sites. They've now got 60 so they've almost doubled in size during my time! Every outlet has its own distinct brand, marketing, theme and food but we like to think that means that our customers understand us and we in turn understand them. Our brand is still very chef-led, and we cook a lot of dishes from scratch, plus we get to travel so the incentives to work for us are fantastic. We try to get our chefs to see and taste as much produce as possible.
I think 'adventurous' is great as we want to bring recipes and ideas back from all over the world to our customers. Plus, this means we're not following any of our competitors; we want to be first to market with our genre of food. 'Vibrant' in this day and age means making things look great on a plate, which also makes them Instagrammable; something our customers love. Whilst 'Wholesome' can be applied to generous portions, indulgency or just making the customer feel better about themselves. That's still my philosophy today and I've been lucky enough to pursue this with Las Iguanas.
@glennchef utilising the Jicama or #Mexican #Radish for the @lasiguanas summer salad preview today at the @bunzllockhart #london #innovation centre #instatakeover. Stay tuned for the full dish! #chef #chefs #chefsofinstagram #food #foodie #foodinspiration #ncoty #demo #competition #sponsor
18 Likes, 0 Comments - Lockhart Catering Equipment (@bunzllockhart) on Instagram: "@glennchef utilising the Jicama or #Mexican #Radish for the @lasiguanas summer salad preview today..."
We use big Brazilian and Mexican influences and some of the ingredients I've brought to the Innovation Centre include:-
• Tomatillo: Mexican tomato, bitter sour but vibrant green; used in salsa verde or salsa fresca with coriander, lime and garlic.
• Jicama: This can be chopped as chips and eaten raw with salt as a starter.
• Black radish & watermelon radish: These aren't indigenous to South America and the Daikon is used in a lot of Asian cookery, but the bitter taste complements a lot of our fresh seasonal dishes.
• Hibiscus: This is commonly used in Mexico. We've dried it out and blended it down with some Malden Sea Salt which reacts with the juices from the radishes and oils to create a really vibrant dressing for our salads.
• Tajin: This is made with chilli, dried lime and sea salt. It's more commonly used with cocktails in Mexico, like Margarita or Michelada.
However, the drinks at Las Iguanas are just as important as the food. The Casual Dining sector has had its share of bad news in recent years but at Las Iguanas we've bucked that trend. Cocktails are a key driver of footfall in select locations for us especially when we do 2 for 1. We place roughly a 60/40 split on food and drink which is why we do things such as Cachaca, tequila and mezcal masterclasses. This is a great example of a collaboration of the traditional food and drink we try to offer our customers.
A Mexican Radish Salad from Las Iguanas Tapas menu presented on the Artisan Shore Side Dish. It includes crunchy Jicama seasoned with hibiscus salt, exotic radishes with chilli and lime seasoning drizzled with dill oil.
Construction begins with fresh radish, orange & jicama dipped in hibiscus salt on the @lasiguanas summer salad from #NCOTY finalist @glennchef for @bunzllockhart #london #innovation centre #instatakeover ------- #chef #chefs #chefsofinstagram #food #foodie #foodinspiration #ncoty #demo #competition #sponsor
23 Likes, 0 Comments - Lockhart Catering Equipment (@bunzllockhart) on Instagram: "Construction begins with fresh radish, orange & jicama dipped in hibiscus salt on the @lasiguanas..."
I have created Bonita Ensalata (beautiful salad) from our “Peru & beyond” menu presented on Artisan Cove Coupe. This dish has heirloom tomatoes, hibiscus salt, Jicama, exotic radishes, orange, chilli and lime seasoning drizzled with dill on a bed of mixed leaves.
Bonita Ensalata: heirloom tomatoes, hibiscus salt, jicama, exotic radishes, orange, chilli & lime seasoning, drizzled with dill on a bed of mixed leaves presented on Artisan Cove Coupe Dish from @glennchef @lasiguanas for @bunzllockhart #London #Innovation Centre #instatakeover ------- #chef #chefs #chefstagram #londonevents #chefdemo #food #foodie #foodphotography #catering #hospitality #chefsofinstagram #NCOTY #competition #sponsored
22 Likes, 1 Comments - Lockhart Catering Equipment (@bunzllockhart) on Instagram: "Bonita Ensalata: heirloom tomatoes, hibiscus salt, jicama, exotic radishes, orange, chilli & lime..."
NCOTY was a fantastic platform and one that Las Iguanas has fully supported me with. It was great to be competing against high profile chefs, many of which work in fine dining as I wanted to showcase more from the casual dining sector. I try to implement the South American theme whenever possible so that gives a taste of the brand that I develop dishes for.
For those considering entering in the future, I'd say never be afraid to ask for advice from peers or colleagues. Being innovative and seasonal are important as well as these are key to how I've developed my own style and I've always continued to stick to my ethos. Many chefs think it's about showing off loads of skills but most importantly it's about serving a plate of tasty food.
Massively! It's going to become even bigger via social media and the Sustainable Score is a great example of it becoming even more important. If you don't work with these social changes you'll be boycotted by the customers that are more eco-friendly and sustainability aware. Our new kitchen is focussed on a lower carbon footprint and energy-saving equipment and processes. I think if you start publicising your efforts as a company then it can be another string to your bow and will have a positive effect on business. It should be covered in every aspect of your kitchen from chef culture to produce and from equipment to processes.
The 2600 sq. ft. Lockhart Innovation showroom has been designed as a showcase for our company vision, which is to bring"innovation and inspiration to the preparation and presentation of food". The Innovation Centre incorporates front of house displays, several fully functional demonstration areas such as a mixology bar and commercial kitchen as well as an array of displays from leading brands.
To learn more about Glenn Evans, why not read his full bio on the National Chef of the Year website or follow him on social media at https://www.instagram.com/glennchef and https://twitter.com/Glenn_Chef