MasterChef: The Professionals 2020 finalist, Philli Armitage-Mattin, is taking over the Number One Park Lane terrace until 24 September 2022. This special pop-up celebrates the publication of Philli’s debut cookbook, Taste Kitchen: Asia.
Having completed a master’s degree in Chemistry at the University of Bristol, Philli was first introduced to food science by the same professor that worked with Heston Blumenthal. When obtaining her professional cookery qualifications in London, she trained with the Gordon Ramsay Group, before jetting off to Asia to experience the cuisine first hand. She then brought her expertise back to the UK when she reached the final four of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2020.
We chatted to Philli about her special new Taste Kitchen menu at Number One Park Lane.
How did it all start?
From baking glittery pigs cakes, and running to the kitchen department in John Lewis rather than the toy section were where my obsession with food and cooking began.
Tell us about the transition from chemistry student into the professional kitchen?
I visited L’Enclume in the Lake District where my grandparents used to live. My dad took me to one of my first fancy restaurants I’ve been to and this changed my path. I was enthralled by the chefs who worked like dancers.
I mentioned I loved cooking and studied chemistry, so I was invited into the development kitchen, which looked like a chemistry lab but the chef Chet Sharma of BiBi had a science background and got to experiment with ingredients, test them and eat them. This is when I made the decision not to take up a city job, but pursue my passion with food, and the dream to become a development chef. I jump into the deep end with an apprenticeship with the Gordon Ramsay Group.
What can people expect with your menu concept at Taste Kitchen?
For their palate to be delighted, with unexpected twists and my favourite crispy chicken nuggets.
From your Taste Kitchen menu at Number One Park Lane, what is your flavour palate?
I feel we all have every palate, and to balance a dish with the six palates – kiddish, spice master, comfort, tarty, refined and dark horse. Our palate changes by the hour with mood, weather and hunger levels.
Any future signature dishes you are working on currently that you can tell us about?
I seldom use the term signature dish because it halts your creativity and hinders you. I love to create new dishes and ideas all the time which is why opening a full time restaurant is not in my plan. I do not want to get tied to a dish that I have to create on a daily basis as that almost sounds like a prison.
There’s a couple of dishes that I have been working on including one called Toxic Waste which looks at sustainability and overfishing of our seas. Using British sustainably sourced fish, I used mackerel that is lightly smoked and blow torched served on an olive oil soil in a picture frame dish. The sauce is a Nam Jim dipping sauce in a plastic toxic waste container. When the green sauce is poured on the soil, it melts looking like an oil spill revealing a photo of the effects of over fishing as you eat the dish.
What do you like to cook at home?
If I’m hosting a dinner party, I get to be creative with guests. Dining in the flat is a super intimate kitchen table experience normally with 10-ish courses where I get to experiment with flavours and concepts.
Top 3 favourite restaurants in the UK?
In the world: Alchemist Copenhagen.
If you could award a Michelin star right now, who would it be to and why?
I would award the team at Opheem a second star: Definitely worth a detour and a flavour journey.
Kebab Queen: Clever, fun and innovative with a heart and many lovely naughty bites.
What is next in the culinary journey for you?
My debut cookbook will be released on 1 September 2022, Taste Kitchen: Asia.
The Taste Kitchen at Number One Park Lane is open until 24 September 2022.
To discover more, visit: parklane.intercontinental.com
To buy Taste Kitchen: Asia, visit: amazon.co.uk
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All imagery courtesy of Jean Cazals.