Tell us about a typical working day in the life of Marc Fosh.
How does this differ from a British working day, who do you
buy from, is the working culture of your employees different
from that of England, what do you cook for staff food...
My typical working day normally starts with a strong coffee
with Adrian, my sous-chef in one of the markets in Palma,
chatting to fellow chefs and suppliers. In half an hour you
can catch up on all the gossip from the Island. I love the
markets in the Spain. They have managed to retain their rustic
charm and identities. The people are great and always full
I always used to smile when reading cookery books of other
chefs in Britain talking about going to the markets every
day before heading to their kitchens because the markets in
London trade during the night and very early morning. There
is no way you can spend 14 hours in your kitchen every day
and go to the markets. I used to make a big effort and go
occasionally but in Spain it's much more relaxed as the markets
open until midday.
By 10-10.30 I usually arrive at the hotel and ring round to
speak to the suppliers and make sure that all the orders are
ok and on time. Living on an Island can cause lots of problems
when you are waiting for produce. You are reliant on planes
being on time and the weather, as fishing boats don't go out
in bad weather.
My team will dribble in at 11, if I'm lucky and most mornings
I usually am. It does seem a very late start but people eat
late in Spain and service doesn't start until 1 o'clock. Last
orders are at 3.30, so by the time lunch is over and we are
all cleared up and ready for the evening service it's usually
around 4.30-5 o'clock. Most of the boys will escape for an
hour or so and be back by seven. Service starts again at 8
and last orders are taken at 11. We are normally be finished
by 12-12.30 and then we eat. Staff food could be anything
really as long as its quick and consists mainly of grilled
meat with rice or pasta and a salad.
Obviously the culture is different in Spain and the work ethic
is sometimes frustrating to deal with. Spanish kitchens are
not as competitive as English ones and in general have a better
atmosphere with a little less of the macho type stuff going
In England we tend to live to work but the Spanish work to
live and their jobs are not generally the most important thing
in their life's, I'm too old to change but I cant help but
feel that they've got it right sometimes.
What drew you to work in Mallorca, and what were your first
thoughts of working in such a legendary touristy destination?
Before coming to Mallorca I had no idea how beautiful and
diverse the Island actually is. Like most people I thought
of the typical touristy stereotype image and was not at all
sure if it was somewhere I wanted to live and work. I remember
flying in for a long weekend and when you fly over the Island
for the first time it is a stunning sight. It's very green,
has wonderful mountains and some of the best coastline in
the Mediterranean. Driving around the Island all you see is
almond, olive and orange groves and some truly beautiful scenery.
I was concerned about finding good produce and initially it
was difficult, now we have some suppliers who can order anything
from Rungis market in Paris and it's here the next day.
you describe your cuisine?
It's always difficult to describe ones own food but mine is,
in essence, very Mediterranean. We do not use much cream and
butter and we try to keep things light and natural.
What is your philosophy for running a kitchen?
My philosophy for running the kitchen is to try and keep the
brigade fresh and interested in what they're doing. Changing
sections, attending courses and encouraging them to better
themselves by respecting and understanding the ingredients
used. I think the teaching aspect of being a head chef is
paramount and I'm always extremely proud to see young people
develop their skills when they pass through my kitchen.
I believe it is essential to have a good atmosphere and to
respect the people around you, although some people need kicking
more than others. Discipline is important to achieve high
standards but it should always be tempered with praise when
young chefs get things right.
Is it a challenge to find skilled kitchen staff?
Finding skilled kitchen staff has always been a problem and
is probably more so than ever as young people are less willing
to put up the long hours and low pay traditionally associated
with the catering industry.
Initially, it was difficult for us here at Read's, but as
we have become better known and the restaurant creeps up in
the guidebooks ratings etc. more and more c.v.'s (resumes)
arrive in the post. I am lucky to have a fairly steady team
with 4-5 important members that have been together for 2 or
3 years. So the usual comings and goings of the kitchen don't
affect us too badly.
Who has most influenced you in your career and in what ways
have they done it?
I have never really had one maestro that has influenced me
greatly, as before coming to Read's I had never stayed anywhere
long enough. I respect and admire many chefs, too many to
mention and I am a great reader of cookery books, old and
new. I think missing that one person who has influenced me
and defined my career is helpful in developing my own style.
What inspires you?
Many things inspire me and sometimes I'm at my most inspired
just relaxing on the sofa at home. The markets inspire me
enormously and seeing any product at its optimum point is
still something that gives me a real kick. Over the last few
years, the way I construct dishes has changed and I tend to
start with one simple ingredient and play with flavour combinations,
not knowing where it will take me. So instead of starting
with the main ingredient like sea bass or beef fillet, I start
with something like a cardamom pod or a tonka bean and work
around that, hoping that it will lead me somewhere and usually
With the food scene being so hot in the UK do you sometimes
wish you were back there to be part of it?
I used to back to London regularly when I first moved to Spain
and over the years I've had some tempting offers to return
but have refused them all. For me Spain, gastronomically speaking
has been the most interesting country in Europe for the last
ten years or so and has given me so much. Apart from the obvious
genius of Fernando Adria there are plenty of young, talented
chefs here, who are not afraid to try something different
and push a few boundaries. The shadow of Marco Pierre White
loomed too large in London and too many chefs were producing
almost identical looking food that never tasted as good as
the masters. So many good restaurants had very similar menus
and it looks like it will continue to happen with Gordon Ramsay's
expanding empire. We are owed a little more originality from
the boys in London.
What are your plans for 2002?
This year I hope to see my first book published. I am enjoying
the photography and the fact that at long last I have started
to religiously write down and catalogue my recipes. I hold
cookery demonstrations in my kitchen and write recipe pages
for various publications and this has helped me to discipline
myself in the writing of recipes. 2002 has started well, I
have just received a PLATO DE ORO (Golden Plate award) from
the Spanish gastronomic society and been voted chef of the
year by one of the guides so I just plan to keep working away
and hopefully keep it interesting for myself and my staff.
What words of advice would you offer a chef who was thinking
of running a kitchen in Spain...
The key to everything, when living and working in another
country, is the language. You have to learn it as quickly
as possible and immerse yourself in the culture. If you don't
have a good basic control of the language you will never be