So to kick off with a little context, the Founder of the Nth Degree Global and Founder and President of the Restaurant Association invited this dear British friend of mine for MANY moons now, Chris Prow, now among London’s finest, to take part in a very special campaign.
“Over these last few months or 154 days of lock down in the UK, the Association has done a sterling job and this is just a wee way to acknowledge them and Essential Workers!” Chris enthuses.
Chris having a laugh!
So what makes this campaign special, you might ask?
Throughout the month of August, the World Avocado Association in partnership with the Restaurant Association (a division of the UK Hospitality & Nth Degree Global) are asking chefs to present their way or a ‘unique perspective’ to enjoy the fruit as versatile and flavoursome as the avocado truly is! Besides their flavour, they have unbelievable health properties, it has to be said. A champion fruit indeed!
The avocado is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. Ounce for ounce, they are among the richest in fibre, folate, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium, among all fruits. This nutritional profile makes it a most worthy superfood. From personal experience, whilst chef, Chris, was living in Barbados he fondly recalls having had the privilege to enjoy the creamy texture that these avocado pears can sometimes bear.
“It’s also a lovely way for us as chefs to acknowledge the NHS and Key-workers and to thank them,” he adds sincerely.
Men at work… Quiet please… This is precision at its finest!
Delicious food AND food for thought… Now here is truly a campaign Humble Pie can get behind! But first, before Chris’s delectable avo creation and the recipe he has so generously shared for the greater cause and for readers here, I thought it fitting to get to know the man behind the dish a little better first!
It has to be said, right off the bat, that Chris and I share a fond history. My father, another fine chef in his own right, was Prow’s ‘boss man’ when the latter was but a young ‘pup’ in his early twenties.
Now, please bear in mind, in all honesty, that my dad used to make Gordon Ramsay in his finest telly rages pale in comparison… Although I’d like to think my ol’ papa bear has mellowed a little since! And few chefs could take it in their stride like Chris, for all I’d seen grown men almost rendered to tears up until then, running far for the hills as fast as their regulation footwear could take them!
Beyond this, Chris did a first-rate job indeed of shuttling my teenage friends and I on occasional weekends at my dad’s, ever the gentleman and dedicated chauffeur! I hope I wasn’t too much the brat back then!! And yet, here I have him at my mercy yet again with a little Q & A determinedly pointed in his direction… So let’s dive right in, shall we!
So tell us a little bit about your life since you left sunny South African shores… A little birdie told me that Gary Rhodes, an icon among icons, had something to do with all that?
Well I came to the UK with the view to be working for Gary Rhodes… Got to go for the interview at City Rhodes in Fleet Street in the City of London – will cherish that moment a lot! I was young, green and hungry to learn, but could not afford to live on the remuneration being offered at the time. So I then went for another interview at the iconic, world ‘famous’ Ritz Hotel in London – where I was offered the role of Junior Sous chef. It was shortly after the dreadful 911 incident and as business worldwide got tighter, less positions were being filled, so I was sadly a non-starter as they cancelled my contract on me just before I was meant to start. I then worked my way through the ranks of some relatively decent UK top dining establishments. One I remember fondly was The Pot Kiln – where I was head chef ! (Bear in mind I’ve always wanted to do television, following on from Gary Rhodes.)
I was involved in three television series, 10 episodes a piece namely: Heaven Kitchen, Heaven Garden & Mike Robinson’s Heaven’s Cookbook. During my tenure here, thereafter, I was honoured and humbled to have met who is now the Duchess of Cambridge and HRH, Prince William, for whom I had the privilege to cook with a Thanks Giving BBQ around a big International’s Rugby tournament for some of the Middletons and HRH Prince William’s friends – and at the last minute I was asked to come cook a lovely roast Sunday luncheon for around 15 to 20 close friends that were at the party the day before – very humbling and something I will cherish.
(Off the back of that I also took Pippa Middleton under my wing at The Pot Kiln for a few months to share with her the workings of a professional kitchen.)
After I moved away from the Pot Kiln, I set up my own `restaurant’ under the guise of a Gastro Pub – this is where I was invited by The BBC Radio to be co-host and contribute on all things foodie. I did this for a good few years and absolutely loved it!
I then headed up a rather loved French / English Frangalise Restaurant for 7 years, where I was fortunate to be in the Top 40 French `restaurants in the UK – Proud Achievement’ , then sadly that came to an abrupt halt , when the owner decided to shut up shop… The business can sometimes be a cruel mistress… This is where I literally took a year out and went to the Caribbean – Barbados -and I headed up a big team of chefs, 32 to be exact, at The Tides Restaurant – one of, if not the, best restaurants on the island… I then came back and found myself in the position where I am today, at The Capital Hotel – an iconic landmark in the London food scene with some big footsteps to follow in the industry!
Who would you consider your ultimate mentors in your journey to local celebrity status in your own life, and what did they each impart on you and leave as ‘their mark’ in the man, chef, and culinary artist you are today?
Well, your dad gave me an excellent grounding/base to start…. Thereafter, I’d say I was heavily influenced by Alain Chapel, Alain Ducasse, Michel Roux snr, Marco Pierre White, and Anthony Bourdain… I then travelled and worked under some iconic chefs in their own right in and around. I always read, learnt to ask as many questions as possible and to give 150 %, so if I make a mistake, I am still giving the bare minimum: 100 % !
What cookbooks, in the broader sense of the word from memoirs to coffee table books, are amongst the most dog-eared and cherished on your shelf at home or at work?
Spoon by Alain Ducasse and White Heat by Marco Pierre White would be among my ultimate top picks to name but a few if I have to…
What five ingredients could you never go without in the kitchen?
Salt, chilli, lemon, honey & vanilla!
As a follow up to that, as a foodie myself, I am no stranger to ‘food porn’ (which is what I jokingly call my lusted after kitchen appliances and glorious ‘tools of the trade’)… So what’s in your belt, gunslinger?
My Japanese bespoke hammered Gyuto chef’s knife… My Florentine Kitchen Knives, all bespoke… My timer… My pencil… My trusted fish slice (a thin, cranked spatula-like beauty of a tool – had it close on 20 years!).
And if I might be so personal, on your weekends out in the country, what would you say sums up the general contents of your refrigerator at home? Feel free to deny disclosure!
Always champagne, and at least 2 bottles (you simply never know who comes to visit!), a tin of caviar (my secret indulgence), some smoked eel, fruit juice and finally, Tonic water…
If you could host the Ultimate Dinner Party, who would you want to invite (of any era!) and what would you prepare for the special occasion, from starters, mains to dessert?
I would invite my dad… Sascha & Mark –my very close mates. (They keep me grounded.) And with their respectful and lovely ladies too… They don’t realise it, but they are good for me! Sometimes just being there and not saying anything helps me through my dark times (and I have had a few). (Love you, lads!)… And finally, Charlize Theron (bit of a crush!)… Menu would read: champagne & Caviar on arrival – rather lavish affair… Then to sit down to little duck eggs and foie gras… A savoury brûlée (served in duck eggs with hay, and brioche soldiers)… My main course would be butter & bay leaf poached lobster, with a light vanilla, verjus butter sauce with pickled vegetables… Mmmm… Then for desert, my favourite Cashel blue cheese with chive crackers , and finally to finish off with a bowl of cherry ice cream with rum & chocolate sauce… Utter indulgence!
What is your ultimate guilty gastronomic indulgence?
Wagyu beef tartare topped with caviar, foie gras, and sancerre! That’ll do me just fine!
If you simply HAD to choose, what would your last meal be and why?
My dad’s tuna rice bake ,with a Burrata salad and lots of sea salt , and Supathra’s Tom Yum Gong…
What’s trending lately that has you excited for new avenues to explore in the culinary world? And do you have any predictions for what’s to come beyond?
To me, it would have to be the greater move towards health conscience superfoods in fine dining, healthy eating , and a lot more in the raw food department to come… Fresh, fresh, fresh!
On the flipside, what are culinary traditions or timeless meals that you feel deserve more of a ‘comeback’ in the mainstream?
Buy the best quality produce and do less to it… It’s so simple really. Just let Mother Nature do the talking!
What is your usual tipple of choice and if you were to similarly pick a favourite cocktail for Summer days in the Uk right now, what would it be?
I’m a big lover of rum especially aged – older the better! Then I’d say ideally an Aperol Spritzer in Summer… Ultimately you can’t go wrong with anything cold and refreshing of which there are so many options, even a time-honoured lager!
Beyond this, with Spring slowly but surely encroaching on South African shores, and a nation desperate to get outdoors as Covid regulations begin to ease up a little… What would you pack for the perfect picnic or day at the beach for my readers here at home?
Cheese & tomato sandwich (a classic staple!), hummus, falafel bites, and Supathra’s Tom Yum soup – I’d find a way to heat it – to die for!
When you’re not serving up sumptuous fare to London’s finest, what does a typical day off for Chris Prow look like?
Wake up, coffee fix, check emails/ Instagram / go for walk… I tend to try catch up with my lil’ bro- he’s a good egg! Then, pick up food for dinner, chill out & relax, see friends. That’s me in a nutshell!
As something of an avid music lover, I just have to ask… If there were to be a soundtrack while whipping up some grub in the kitchen who would make their way onto your stereo?
I normally put on some Sea Fountain, Dire Straights, The Cure, The Who, to name but a few…
Finally, if you were stuck on a desert island for an entire year, with nothing but water and salt and pepper at the ready, what ten Must-Have culinary ingredients would you be packing in with the sunscreen?
Vanilla , butter , milk (love milk!), bananas , organic coconut yogurt , Manuka Honey, soft white bread (just your regular Joe cheap bread), coffee, cherry ice cream, and dark chocolate digestives… That’s me done!
Follow Chris on either twitter or instagram at either one of the handles below…
Nothing calls for a Guinness quite like a little Winter chill!
Haas Avocado, Chilli & Valrhona Chocolate Mousse – Served with Avocado & Coconut Frozen ‘Yogurt’.
(“This is great for Vegans or Non-Vegans alike!”)
Ingredients for Choc Mousse
• 2/3 Large ripe avocados, peeled
• Pinch chilli flakes / Small pinch Cayenne Pepper (depends on how you handle spice)
• 1 Vanilla pod split
• 2/3 Tablespoons Manuka Honey (Depends on how sweet your tooth is)
• 50 grams of Pure Valrhona Cocoa Powder
If you have a Thermomix or food processor put all ingredient into together and blitz until smooth & Creamy in texture – put into a piping bag. Get your favourite pudding bowls or lovely glassware and pipe in to the glass and refrigerate.
Ingredients for Avocado & Coconut Frozen “Yogurt”:
• Vanilla pods split
• 150grams caster sugar
• Zest of 2 limes
• Juice of 2 limes
• 4/5 ripe avocados, peeled & seeded
• 500ml organic coconut “yogurt”
1. Halve vanilla pods, scrape and add to pot with sugar, zest and lime juice- bring to the boil and take off heat after sugar is dissolved
2. Once cooled down – remove vanilla pods (set aside).
3. Add avocados, sugar syrup & organic coconut “yogurt’ to food processor & blitz for a good 2 to 3 mins then pass through a fine sieve / Chinois
4. Place into ice cream machine & churn until stiff, scrape out & place in freezer – whether to eat straight away or eat later…
Remove the chocolate mousse from the refrigerator, scoop one or 2 scoops of the avocado ice cream and place on top of the mousse. Grate some Valrhona chocolate & dig in…
love from Chris from The Capital Hotel, Knightsbridge