“I still very much like the classic way of cooking – I don’t use a lot of water baths. It’s not that I think there’s anything wrong with them – it’s just not my style of cooking. I prefer to play the piano.”
Play the piano?
“Yeah, you know, like the old fashioned way when you play the piano with the pots and pans. With water baths, a lot of the time it’s – drop it in the water bath, take it out, snip the bag, seal it off – and serve it. I understand why people do it, because you get consistency – but what you’re getting now is young chefs coming into the kitchen who don’t know how to roast a chicken – and we’ll end up losing the whole ethos of cooking.”
Roasting a chicken is not a problem for Armand Sablon who, along with his Executive chef Andrew Turner, goes as far as to work with the farm providing his birds to feed them flavour-enhancing sage as part of their diet. It’s hardly surprising that he would be fond of the classics, having twice made the finals of the prestigious Roux Scholarship, the second time – in 2007 – winning overall. He was awarded with a stage at the long-established, three-Michelin-starred Auberge du I’ill, on the French- German border in Alsace, where he observed the French culture of ‘hospitality as vocation’.
“It was like a family out there,” he says. “In France this trade is treated as a career and the people are looked after – the sous chefs and some of the waiters had been at Auberge de I’ill for almost 25 years. We’ve come a long way in this country and obviously all the television work has helped but still, if you say you want to become a chef or waiter, it’s not seen to be as prestigious as it is in France.”