September’s Meet the Chef: Robert Theron, Orpington GPO, Orpington
What led you to becoming a chef?
My earliest inspiration has to be the legendary Keith Floyd. I was taken with his classic cooking style and by the way he always had a glass of good French red in his hand! My first foray into a professional kitchen was a job pot washing at a place called Cube in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was from working in that kitchen that I decided to train to become a chef.
Where did you train?
I studied at the Culinary Institute in Free State South Africa. I was then fortunate to work under Bernard Loiseau in France to refine my cooking technique.
Where have you worked before Orpington GPO?
Aside from that pot washing job at Cube, I have worked at Test and Constantia in South Africa, before taking on roles at Thackerays and The Beacon in Kent.
Why Kent / Orpington GPO?
[opportunity to showcase restaurant USP, location, provenance, dining experience, menu]
Choosing Kent as a place to be a chef was easy. It’s green, lush and the Garden of England in terms of produce – it’s a very foodie county yet also just on the doorstep of London. Orpington itself has a very loyal community, who also care about food and drink.
Tell us about the dishes and menu you have created at Orpington GPO?
My approach is fully nose to tail casual dining. This means we are big on butchery, provenance and using the whole animal. This works perfectly here as Orpington residents – and guests who travel to GPO – like their fish and meat! I work directly with Smithfields to source our meat and with select handpicked local suppliers for everything else.
What is your signature/favourite dish?
Due to the nature of GPO I need to pick two! For daytime it has to be our low & slow crumpets; just simple indulgence. For dinner, the halibut with cockle cream and sea herbs – refined and rich yet delicate and simple – just how dining should be!
What is your guilty pleasure?
Watching Zulu and drinking beer!
GPO’s Signature Low & Slow Crumpets
Prep Time: 8 hours
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6 – 8
- Jacobs Ladder 1.5kg (whole short rib of beef)
- Crumpets (we make our own, but we recommend buying in for this at home)
- 2 eggs per serving
- Spring onion and/or microgreens to garnish
For the rub:
- 2 tbsp English mustard,
- 2 tbsp celery salt,
- 2 tbsp dried garlic,
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika,
- 2 tbsp Kosher salt,
- 2 tbsp black pepper,
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- Rich gravy
For the Hollandaise:
- 4 eggs
- 1tsp white wine vinegar
- 250g butter
- Pinch salt
- 1tsp English mustard
- Heat oven to 150ºC.
- Put rub on all of the short rib.
- Wrap the whole ladder in foil, then clingfilm, then foil, then clingfilm.
- Cook in the oven for 8 hours.
Once cooked, make the hollandaise sauce:
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and then keep warm.
- Put the egg yolks, white wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and a splash of ice-cold water in a metal or glass bowl. Whisk for a few minutes, then put the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk continuously until pale and thick, about 3-5 mins.
- Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the melted butter bit by bit until it’s all incorporated and you have a creamy hollandaise. (If it gets too thick, add a splash of water.) Season with the mustard to taste. Keep warm until needed.
- Finely chop spring onions.
- Heat gravy in a saucepan and break the cooked short rib into the pan, gently heat through.
- Butter crumpets and cook.
- Poach 2 eggs.
- Place short rib flakes and gravy on each crumpet. Add a poached egg on top of each. Add 1 tablespoon of hollandaise on each. Garnish with spring onion and/or microgreens