LONDON — For Anton Edelmann, the future of cooking is all about shrunken pleasures. The Savoy’s longtime chef — who jokes that he’s shortened many a man’s life with his rich dishes — says it’s time to scale...
LONDON — For Anton Edelmann, the future of cooking is all about shrunken pleasures. The Savoy’s longtime chef — who jokes that he’s shortened many a man’s life with his rich dishes — says it’s time to scale down and lighten up.
“I don’t want people starving themselves for two days after they eat my food,” said Edelmann in the bar of his new restaurant, Allium, at the Dolphin Square hotel in Pimlico. “I want smaller portions, more sharing, more eating with forks, rather than with forks and knives.”
Edelmann, the boss of the Savoy’s kitchens from 1982 until earlier this year, was one of London's first celebrity chefs. He counts Sarah Ferguson, Hugh Grant and Ewan MacGregor among his fans, and his protégés include London chefs Giorgio Locatelli and Nana Yaw Nitri-Akuffo (see sidebar).
After overseeing a staff of 80 at the Savoy, he’s now calling the shots in a kitchen with eight chefs, many of whom are longtime friends. Gone are the days of nine-course New Year’s Eve dinners — for the millennium, Edelmann cooked up a meal costing 3,000 pounds, or almost $5,000 per guest, at the Savoy. Now, what’s in store is simplicity.
During the coming year he wants to give Allium more of a multicultural vibe. Instead of traditional white china, the plates will be a jumble of different colors, designs and shapes, and the food will have more Italian, Spanish and Greek influences.
Edelmann is already devising next summer’s menu, with dishes including Iberian ham with wild asparagus and Manchego cheese; salted cod with beans and fillet of beef on top, and his own version of gazpacho with seared scallops.
But whateveryou do, don’t call it fusion cuisine.
“The vast majority of fusion restaurants are hopeless and misguided,” says Edelmann. “Cuisines evolve for a reason and the rhythm of food reflects the culture, it reflects how people live. So why would you want to mix food from the Far East — which is a vast and diverse place — with food from a dingy place like Cuba? To me, it’s designer food for the sake of designer food.”Sharing will soon be a big part of the Allium dining experience. “I want the dishes to be accessible and user-friendly. Menus need to be about food that anyone at any stage of life can eat. I want the granny and the daughter to share their food, and to walk away knowing they had a great meal,” he says. Edelmann doesn’t even care how complicated the food is to make — his priority is to ensure “it looks and eats simple. The important thing is that it needs to tantalize and shock a little bit.”
He also plans to apply the small-is-better philosophy to the pastry cookbook he’ll be writing over the coming year, and which is due out in the fall. “It’s all about minipastries, pastry tapas if you like,” he says with a laugh. Edelmann plans to marry panna cotta with bits of French toast, combine a fruit and wine jelly mold with minted Greek yogurt and passion fruit sauce.
“And the sauces will all be served separately, so you’ll be able to construct your own dessert. Why should you have to eat the damn chocolate sauce if you don’t want to? It’s about giving diners more choice — that’s the way forward.”
Looking into the future, Edelmann says there will even be more choice of wines, too. “You’ll see restaurants becoming more adventurous with wine. We’ll be drinking more wines from the New World, from Eastern Europe and South Africa. People don’t want mass products anymore. They want to try new and different things.”
Edelmann sees Allium as the beginning of an era. “You know, when I turned 50, I knew I had to stay or to go. I needed a change, and I needed a restaurant — after all, what’s a chef without a restaurant? At the Savoy, I was blinkered. Leaving was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.”
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