All, Chefs, Food

Michele Nargi, executive head chef, The Ned

Chef Michele joined our London hotel (a joint venture with Sydell Group) from Shoreditch House, where he was head chef. Here’s a little bit more about him

How long have you worked for Soho House & Co?

I started back in the summer of 2012.

Where did you get most of your inspiration throughout your career?

My mum for sure. It might be a boring answer, but it’s the truth. She is the best chef in the world by far. She cooks classic Italian and actually learnt how to cook from my father.

What do you most like to cook?

I have always loved to cook with artichokes.

What is your favourite season for cooking and why?

It has to be between spring and autumn. Spring because nature comes back to life, everything is colourful and fresh and autumn because of things like mushrooms, truffles.

What is your favourite cookbook?

Under Pressure by Thomas Keller. The recipes are accurate and he uses a different approach and explains lots of modern techniques.

What is your favourite restaurant in London?

Yauatcha, it’s a Chinese restaurant in Soho. It’s actually my girlfriend’s favourite restaurant so I have been there so many times, but its very consistent, great value for money, great service, nice people and a nice atmosphere.

What do you look for in your chefs?

Humility, they need to be simple guys and they need to be crazy of course. They need to have their heart and soul in what they are doing. It’s not just about coming to work and just following and listening. Sometimes I give them homework to do. It is important that they want to get involved and are willing to learn and show me that they are committed. If they get paid for the first time and go out and buy a great set of knives, it shows me that they are committed.

What is one of the funniest things you have witnessed as a chef?

In 2007 I was working a very busy evening shift and we were short staffed because someone had called in sick. I was on the pass calling the cheques loud and a guy I was working with, a great chef from Verona, was covering two sections. I could smell that something burning and shouted out to the chefs, “What is that burning?”, and he shouted back, “My shoes chef”, because he was running so fast. The whole restaurant stopped and started laughing. We had so many cheques on, but I just had to stop and laugh.

What is your most memorable meal?

At home I have a book where I note down all of my most memorable meals. But for me I would have to pick a restaurant in Tokyo called ‘Sukiyabashi Jiro´. It only has 15 seats and the chef is 88 years old now and only has 2 more guys helping him. There is no menu. When I ate there he was 82. It was just inspiring looking at a chef of that age still cook and of course his skills and the level of knowledge were impressive. Of course the restaurant only opened if he was fit and healthy to work.

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