FIVE MINUTES WITH
Mark's Club Head Chef
We caught up with Nicolas Laridan to ask him a selection of questions to give Members an insightful look into what inspires our talented Head Chef...
Where did you start your career?
I began my 4 years' apprenticeship at the young age of 14 in a little family-run restaurant in Paris called Le Relais des Buttes, near Les Buttes Chaumonts. After that I became a commis chef at the Taittinger family’s Concorde St Lazare hotel before joining the Roux brothers in London in 1993.
What inspired you to become a chef?
My Mother ran Parisian Brasseries, so I was always in the kitchen eating what she was cooking, and of course helping out. But my Uncle Christophe was also a great inspiration to me. He was personal chef to an officer in the French Foreign Legion.
What would you order from the Mark's Club menu?
I love the classics, you can never go wrong with them. I think I would start with the crab mayonnaise and toasted Poilane sourdough - vraiment delicieux! Then it would have to be Dover sole meunière. Naturally, as a Frenchman I would be unable to resist the wonderful selection of cheeses on Mark’s Club’s trolley - of course before the pudding. And finally the tarte fine aux pommes would make me truly happy.
On your travels, which of the places you have visited have had most influence on your cooking?
Well, although I am classically French trained, having spent a lot of time as a young chef around the Mediterranean, and also in Corsica, Holland and more than half my life in Britain, I would now define my cooking as modern European. But I also like to include a few spicy twists from my French Cajun and Creole background.
Where do you source most of your ingredients?
Cooking at Mark’s Club gives me the opportunity to work with excellent British suppliers. We buy wonderful Welsh lamb from the Rhug estate; day boat fish from Celtic Fish and Game; live langoustines and Orkney diver scallops from Keltic Seafare; fresh free range eggs from Clarence Court and superb cheeses from Paxton and Whitfield...and of course our imported produce is of equally good quality. Take for example our Limousin veal from Le Marche des Chefs… I get so excited about these products that I could go on and on but I will save you the pain of listening to me for hours. And hours.
What is the one thing you couldn’t live without in the kitchen?
Lemon, I love it in everything.
What is the best meal you have ever had?
My mum’s cassoulet. I’m always ready for a nap when I have reached the bottom of the pot!
Who have you always dreamed of working with?
Paul Bocuse, great man, great chef. But I got to cook for him and meet him with Pierre Troisgros when I was Head Chef at Le Gavroche so that’s a great memory for me.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I love warm new potatoes topped with bacon and Vacherin cheese; I love a meat jus and sherry vinegar truffle dressing with it. Sometimes I put it on as special at Mark’s just so I can be greedy and eat some too. Vacherin du Haut Doubs is from France, and Vacherin Mont d’Or is from Switzerland. I always look forward to the season when they are at their very best, from Autumn till Spring.
Who is the best / favourite person you have ever cooked for?
I am lucky to have cooked for some very great people, but those who stand out in my mind are Her Majesty The Queen and the Queen Mother at a horse racing event years ago when I was working for Chef Albert Roux, and Margaret Thatcher at the War Museum. I was carving whole milk fed lamb for her in front of the big banquet table, and I was shaking and so scared I would drop the meat on the floor. Great moments.