With a passion for creating fresh, local, seasonal dishes that demonstrate what our local area has to offer, our new Head Chef Remi is impressing customers with his latest Spring Menu.
Joining us as Head Chef at The Wheatsheaf in early March 2018, Remi is no stranger to our pubs and customers, having joined us from working in the kitchen at many of our sister pubs.
Remi Zilys has been part of the Red Mist Leisure team for nearly 6 years and has been delighting people with his culinary talents at both The Royal Exchange in Lindford and previously, The Stag on the River near Godalming. We managed to catch up with Remi, so we can get to know him a little better…
What was your first job in the food business and where did you go from there to get to where you are now?
I started my career as many chefs do, as a Kitchen Porter. This was at a very busy pub in Cheltenham which attracted a lot of business from the racing community. My time there really kick started my passion and drive to work with food and was a great introduction to the professional kitchen environment which has become my second home.
I then moved south and joined the team at the Jolly Farmer at Bramley. I started here as a Kitchen Porter but quickly progressed through the kitchen ranks to Commis Chef. Knowing this was where my future lay, I decided to get some qualifications and studied for 2 years at Guildford College whilst progressing at work to a Chef De Partie role and then to Sous Chef.
I joined the Red Mist Leisure team in 2012 as the Sous Chef at the Stag on the River and then moved to The Royal Exchange, Lindford, when the pub launched in 2015. I was also lucky enough to be promoted to Central Support Chef which meant I moved across the seven Red Mist pubs, assisting in all the kitchens and having an input in a variety of menus. This was a fantastic opportunity to work in a number of kitchens, managing different teams, learning from other chefs and honing my own skills.
Have you always wanted to be a chef?
If I’m honest, no, I originally wanted to be an IT Engineer. Food was not a planned route in life for me. However I found I had a passion for food, cooking and the kitchen when I first started as a Kitchen Porter. I really enjoyed the fact that you can develop your skills on your own, and be creating with the food and dishes you are producing.
Who has inspired your love of food and ingredients?
Throughout my career, it has been my colleagues that have inspired me; from the Head Chefs I worked with at The Stag on the River and The Royal Exchange, to those I worked alongside as Central Support Chef with Red Mist. It’s fantastic to work with like-minded people and be able to bounce ideas off each other, share recipes, new techniques and more.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I love cooking classic British food; the ingredients are so flavoursome and I love to experiment with how they can be put together. I’m also a big fan of French cuisine, but I always like to add my own twist to classic recipes, with unusual textures, or to introduce a new flavour that compliments the delicious simplicity of some dishes.
What is your ‘go to’ dinner when you’re having a relaxing chilled evening?
I enjoy a proper British steak and kidney pie, washed down of course with a great lager.
Who is your favourite celebrity chef and why?
Gordon Ramsey has always been an inspiration to me. I think he has a great attitude and focus when he’s cooking and a confidence which comes from being so good at what he does, but also allows him to experiment and create wonderful, exciting dishes.
I would absolutely love to work with him because of his brutal honesty, but I would also love to be in a kitchen with Jamie Oliver because of how he makes food accessible to everyone without losing the skill and great taste of a dish.
What is your Signature Dish?
I love to cook a perfect char-grilled corn fed chicken sat over a Secretts’ leaf salad with shiitake mushrooms and marinated feta. When I am not working though, it’s got to be a great, simple brunch; it’s my guilty pleasure!
Where do you get your inspiration from when creating your menu?
When looking at creating a new menu, the inspiration firstly comes from the season; what’s perfect for the time of year, what’s readily available and what flavours create that instant seasonal feeling. Taste is so powerful and if I can instantly make someone ‘feel summer’ or another season then that’s very satisfying.
Our suppliers are also fantastic and offer a lot of inspiration with their best-in-season products. I always keep my ear to the ground and seek inspiration from my favourite celebrity chef and colleagues too, as well as eating out myself in a variety of restaurants and pubs.
What is your favourite ingredient to work with?
Double cream as it can be used to enhance so many simple things, from scrambling, sauces and baking.