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Meet the chef: Sofian Msetfi, executive chef at Ormer Mayfair By Sofian, Flemings Mayfair Hotel in London

Sofian talks about his Moroccan roots and his quintessentially British 1930’s-inspired restaurant serving innovative British cuisine.

By Shubhangi Dua  |  May 9, 2022
Ormer_KitchenService

Ormer Mayfair by Sofian, at the luxury Flemings Mayfair Hotel, is the first solo project by exciting young chef, Sofian Msetfi. With a Michelin-starred kitchen brigade and three tasting menus, Sofian showcases elegant and refined dining at its best. No gimmicks, no try-too-hard food, just impeccable British ingredients, treated with respect and perfectly plated.

The quintessentially British 1930’s-inspired restaurant is awash with understated glamour and boasts its own private entrance on Clarges Street. We sat down with the highly talented chef to find out more.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, including your where you are today, professionally, and what got you here?

I left school at 15 and started working straight away at a local restaurant – Longridge Restaurant – under the direction of Paul Heathcote MBE, at the time as a kitchen porter. I was really inspired by the comradery, discipline and opportunities that I saw in the kitchen. 

Sofian Msetfi, executive chef at Order Mayfair by Sofian
Sofian Msetfi, Mayfair’s rising culinary star, is executive chef at Ormer Mayfair By Sofian

After three years, I joined the Hand and Flowers Marlow with Tom Kerridge and then moved to Midsummer House for four years with Daniel Clifford who spent a lot of time mentoring me and remains one of my biggest influences. I then joined The Oak Room at Adare Manor as head chef under Michael Tweedie and helped to gain the restaurant a Michelin star, before joining as executive chef at Ormer Mayfair by Sofian. 

What’s your signature dish?

My signature dish at Ormer Mayfair is our warm Ibérico ham jelly – it always receives the best feedback from our guests and has been on the menu since the opening as it’s such a favourite! 

What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu?

When crafting a menu, we always begin by focusing on the produce first – especially in accordance with seasonality. 

Ormer Mayfair's Landes Guinea Fowl
Diners will enjoy exhilarating tasting menus (including a vegetarian tasting menu) available for lunch and dinner

Do your personal preferences influence the menu at all?

Definitely – we like to make our food very original so that it is unique to us, by using bold and creative flavour combinations. 

How would you describe your cooking style?

My cooking style is produce led, based on classical styles but also involves lots of creativity.

Do you have a favourite time of year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?

Spring/summer is always exciting since all my favourite vegetables are in season. 

What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef? 

I am very hands-on and like to create, so I would be involved in some kind of manual labour. 

Sofian Msetfi crafts a delicious and appealing menu
Sofian Msetfi’s impeccable modern British dishes boast the best locally sourced and seasonal British produce

What is your favourite dish to cook at home? 

I personally love the process of cooking a roast dinner at home because it’s the perfect way to share a wholesome meal with friends and family on a lazy Sunday afternoon. 

When you’re not in the kitchen where can you be found? When are you happiest? 

When I am not working, I like to spend as much time outdoors. Either working on my fitness, running in a local park or socialising in the city.  

What is your favourite piece of kitchen equipment?

It has to be a Vitamix. It is an unbelievable piece of equipment that saves us, chefs, a lot of time. These machines can go all day in the kitchen and are always reliable. 

What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food?

I am currently really enjoying middle-eastern flavours, and my family has homemade Moroccan recipes that have been passed down through generations, containing some of my favourite comfort foods. 

Abinao chocolate and tapioca tart using Pedro Ximénez sherry, salted milk sorbet
Ormer Mayfair’s menu offers seasonal British produce, including fresh seafood, locally sourced ingredients and foraged herbs

Where is your favourite place to dine?

At the moment, it’s Fallow in St James – the contemporary restaurant serving innovative food and carefully sourced ingredients. It has a great atmosphere, is sustainably focused and reasonably priced. 

What do you think is the most over-hyped food trend?

I really believe that substance over style is incredibly important. We make sure that anything that is put on the plate has strong reasoning behind it.

How do you go about menu planning? What’s the process from selecting the ingredients to getting them fresh into the kitchen and into dishes?

I discuss my ideas with my senior sous chef Chris Hopkins. He then relays them to the senior team, highlighting what is in the season to creatively brainstorm ideas together with input from the whole kitchen. The next stage is trialling these dishes and combinations which can take weeks to make perfect – but it’s so worth it for the final product.

We offer a five or six-course tasting menu for lunch and six or eight courses for dinner. British produce is at the heart of the culinary process; each dish showcases a combination of two-to-three-star ingredients. 

Sofian Msetfi's Ormer Mayfair Restaurant. Credit: Niall Clutton
Ormer Mayfair By Sofian has been awarded three AA Rosettes, featured in the Michelin Guide 2021, voted one of the top five restaurants in London by the Hardens Restaurant Guide and is consistently rated as one of the top ten restaurants in London for Fine Dining on TripAdvisor

How would you describe the food you create at Ormer Mayfair by Sofian to someone who’s never experienced your kind of food? Why do you choose to serve only tasting menus? 

We describe our food as elegant, original and seasonal, served in a relaxed and polished format with a friendly atmosphere. The flavours are clean, simple and perfectly balanced. We choose to serve only tasting menus because we want to provide a full experience to our guests and make every occasion special. 

What’s your favourite flavour combination?

We currently have a roast Scottish langoustine on our menu, served with blood orange, Roquefort blue cheese and this makes a very unusual flavour combination but works amazingly well. 

Factbox

Address: Flemings Mayfair, 7-12 Half Moon St, London W1J 7BH
Phone: 020 7016 5601
Website: flemings-mayfair.co.uk