The Big Climb: Will Stanyer
What attracted you to the position of executive chef at Marina Social?
To be honest it was all quite out of the blue — I hadn't planned to move away from London, but the opportunity presented itself to me and it fit the bill for exactly what I was looking for in a new role. The opportunity to work with Jason Atherton had obvious appeal, and it also presented a platform on which I am able to grow as a chef and really challenge myself and my cooking to a new level.
How have your past experiences lent themselves to your expertise in this role?
I've always positioned myself to work in great restaurants and have been lucky enough to work alongside people that really pushed me to develop, not just as a chef, but as a manager responsible for the successful running of an entire business. The time I spent running York & Albany and London House back home was a real learning curve for me — it built me into the chef I am today and I feel it is this experience that positions me so well at Marina Social.
What are you most looking forward to as part of this new role?
For me it will always boil down to the food — the style of food at Marina Social really fits my style of cooking, so it’s a great platform for me to build on as we continue to develop the menu. I like to keep the food relatively simple, clean, but fully flavoured with an obvious nod to our British roots. A lot of the dishes I create are influenced by British classics, but presented in a new, subtle and playful way — I hate the idea of food that is style over substance, so flavour is always at the forefront of everything we do.
How do you intend to keep the restaurant popular as well as profitable?
I would say it has to be a balanced approach from both the kitchen regarding the quality and consistency of the food we produce, but also the standard of service we deliver from the front of house. I'm tired of the whole idea of 'fine-dining' and have become somewhat disillusioned to what that means exactly. Times have changed, and so have diners — people want to be able to eat great food and have a good time, so that's what we focus on delivering at Marina Social. The menu will continue to evolve naturally and we are always working on something new, figuring out ways we can stay on top of our game — I can’t imagine a day we stand still, so I think that's a key factor when considering our future success.
Can you share your thoughts on sustainability issues?
One key point around sustainability that we really focus on at Marina Social is wastage and how we can keep it as close to non-existence as possible. I have always struggled with the idea that so much food goes to waste for no good reason, and I think a lot of it comes down to laziness and a lack of respect for the ingredients. We really challenge ourselves creatively by thinking outside the box when it comes to by-products of food — examples include the crackers on our snack menu that are made from baked potato skins. We use the trim from vegetables to make flavoured oils. Stocks, sauces and even entire dishes can be made out of seemingly nothing — your imagination really is the limit. We are also developing an iced-tea recipe made from apple cores and skins; the first trial was delicious, but not quite menu-worthy yet... but watch this space!