Meet the chef: Andrew Cole from Bingham Riverhouse in Richmond
A rising star on London’s hospitality dining scene, Andrew Cole was born in Kingston not far from the Bingham Riverhouse. He’s loved food since childhood, when he watched his grandmother in the kitchen.
Starting out at the Great Eastern Hotel in the City of London, Andrew he honed his skills in the hotel’s 3 and 2 award winning rosette kitchens and its Japanese restaurant. “It was a really good place,” he recalls. “You felt like you changed your job every year and you were always learning.”
At the Great Eastern he discovered a particular love of fish and he brought that skill, invention and respect for quality produce to the Bingham. “It’s about the freshness of good fish, the simplicity,” he commented. “We get ours from Cornwall and if you source really high quality fish then you can’t beat cooking it simply. Don’t complicate it, just let the quality sing out. That, to me, is the honest way to do it.”
Andrew joined the Bingham Riverhouse as Senior Sous Chef in 2010 and he’s developed his own unique style here, based on clarity and the freshest ingredients. “I like to keep flavours natural,” he explains, “with one or two flavours that work really well together on the plate rather than lots of different flavours fighting one another.”
Among his new key dishes are pan fried hake, seared scallop, torched cucumber, shaved fennel, bouillabaisse. “Everything is absolutely fresh and you’re getting a natural flavour of the sea,” he explains. “That’s how I like to eat, with flavours that harmonise naturally.”
We sat down with Andrew and discussed everything from his favourite dishes to how he unwinds outside of the kitchen.
What made you want to become a chef?
From the age of about six my Nan would have myself and my brother in the kitchen to entertain us really! We would cook and bake anything from a casserole to Swiss roll.
You started your career at The Great Eastern Hotel, what skills did you learn that developed you as a chef?
During my time at The Great Eastern I learnt many things but I would definitely say the biggest thing was the pace of the kitchen and the organisation required.
Bingham Riverhouse has just re-opened following a redesign, what can diners expect from the new design and your new menu?
I would say guests can expect simple, relaxed dinning.
What’s your favourite dish on the menu?
My favourite dish is slow cooked duck egg with Iberico ham, asparagus, bitter leaf salad and wild garlic mayo.
What’s your favourite ingredient to cook with?
That really is a difficult question. I love working with fish because of its complexity from preparing to cooking. It’s an easy thing to mess up if not done right.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
Simple and relaxed. I like to let the flavours of the ingredients do their thing.
How do you like to unwind outside of the kitchen?
Spending time with my wife and kids for me. I don’t see a lot of them so time with them is a perfect way to unwind
What would your last meal be?
Last meal for me would definitely be chicken Kiev with creamy mash and baked beans. Pretty much grew up on this so it would only be right!