HOSPITALITY IS NO STRANGER to Chef Martin Cahill. After a career working in high-profile, luxury hotels in the Americas, Asia and the Middle East, Cahill returned home last year to take the helm at Rosewood London. Responsible for overseeing and managing the daily operations at the hotel’s Scarfes Bar and Mirror Room, he also looks to ensure culinary excellence at all times — something he’s been known to do around the globe, from Mandarin Oriental properties in Asia to DUKES hotel in Dubai.
Diners feel like sparkling gems in the jewelry box that is Mirror Room, serving an all-day dining menu alongside a selection of fine wines and Champagnes. At Scarfes Bar, which finds inspiration in drawing rooms, cozy up with cocktails, live music and shelves filled with more than 1,000 antique books hand-picked by a Portobello antiques dealer.
WHICH DESTINATIONS INSPIRED YOU, AND HOW HAS THAT INSPIRATION TRANSLATED INTO YOUR CULINARY CONCEPTS? I love travel; I’ve been lucky to live and work in some extraordinary places. It all began in London, where I learned fundamental skills. Since then, I’ve spent many years in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Thailand; cities like Mumbai also strongly inspired me. I am particularly fond of places that showcase fresh, local produce, keeping it simple and allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves. In Asia, a lot of the best offerings are street food, prepared in minutes — proving simplicity and consistent techniques remain the backbone of the industry.
WHOM DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR CULINARY HERO? This is a challenging question, as I’ve worked in a range of places alongside many talented chefs. However, you cannot deny the chefs who stood the test of time. Those I’ve had the pleasure of working with include Thomas Keller, Martín Berasategui, Joël Robuchon and the Roca brothers — all represent how to preserve a longstanding reputation, maintain simplicity and consistency and effectively develop your team. It is no coincidence chefs who worked under these greats often became esteemed chefs in their own right.
WHAT ONE PERSON MOST INFLUENCED YOUR COOKING STYLE? Since leaving the United Kingdom at an early age and subsequent to honing my style at The Savoy and The Dorchester, both extraordinary schools, I spent time working for Ross Lusted in Sydney, who really showed me a refreshing and novel approach to cooking. He managed to strike an impressive balance between the impeccably high standards achieved by the entire team and a strong sense of fun and camaraderie. This experience changed my outlook.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD CITY? Taipei is a sensational city for food. I found the level of authenticity and simplicity so refreshing, with a perfect balance of flavor profiles. It is a destination worth visiting, and I like how it is not generally regarded as a foodie destination. Stand-out dishes were xiao long bao, the world-famous steamed buns, and char siu bao, barbecue pork buns. The dim sum cuisine is treated as an art, with many restaurants receiving fresh produce every morning and showcasing chef talent in an open kitchen. Hong Kong also inspired me with its abundance of local food, including snake soup, chicken feet and dim sum. Although the city holds numerous Michelin stars, it also takes great pride in simple eateries. The quality of produce in this area is also phenomenal, showcasing the best of Southeast Asia with some of the greatest fish accompanied by great, committed people.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEXT BIG TREND ON THE FOOD SCENE WILL BE? This is a difficult question to approach; however, I hope we divert back to the basics and core elements of hospitality, with chefs having a real love for their produce and seasonality, with farmto- table approaches the ultimate goal. Providing an experience for guests with more focus on personable service, a great atmosphere conducive to relaxation and a homey feel is what we should aim for in terms of consistent trends. I also recognized an increased tendency for high-end restaurants to offer menu items appealing to a health-conscious crowd, accompanied by wine pairings, so perhaps we can expect to see more of this.
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