Chef Profile October 2018: Pierre Caulet, head chef at 44 Hill Street Belfast
Pierre Caulet, head chef at 44 Hill Street Belfast, talks to HRNI
WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO COOKING?
My grandfather first introduced me to the culinary world at a young age. I remember helping him prepare a number of dishes from mussels marinières to vegetable broths, where I would help him cut vegetables at the table in the conservatory – he worked with his opinel knife whilst I had a small office (paring) knife. On one occasion I helped him cook a meal for my mother’s entire family.
HAVE YOU ANY CULINARY QUALIFICATIONS?
Following my hands-on experience as my grandfather’s sous-chef for many years, I went on to achieve BEP and BAC professional qualifications in Hotels and Restaurants, which I gained during my four years of studies at le Gué à Tresmes (The Ford in Tresmes) France.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN THE TRADE?
I have a long history of working in the hospitality and travel industries, beginning in France where I developed my culinary skills in small restaurants and 4-5* hotels in Montagne and Bora Bora, French Polynesia, including the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. After a while, I decided I needed to improve my English and moved to the Republic of Ireland, beginning in Kerry where I worked in a French restaurant called O’Suzette and then moving to Donegal to work at 5* Lough Eske Castle. I then ventured to Switzerland as part of my work and followed this with a year of travelling to explore and enjoy life. Here I am now, six years later, as head chef of 44 Hill Street, owned by Guillaume Rabillat. I had been friendly with Guillaume from my time in the Republic of Ireland, and he convinced me to make the move to Belfast. Five days after moving, I secured position as station chef at Italian restaurant, Coppi.
HAS ANYONE INSPIRED YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?
Many people have inspired me over the years from famous to less well-known chefs. I am very thankful to those who helped me at the start of my career locally, including my last executive head chef Jonny Phillips and Tony O’Neill, owner of Coppi.
WHEN DID YOU JOIN YOUR CURRENT VENUE?
I have been with 44 Hill Street as head chef from the very beginning. We held an enjoyable official launch night in the summer which provided a great opportunity for us to introduce our unique Mediterranean offering to the people of Belfast. I look forward to watching 44 Hill Street become a favourite for many over the coming months.
WHAT STYLE IS YOUR COOKING?
No matter what dish I create, I ensure that it is simple yet rustic and truly bursting with Mediterranean flavours. My love and style of cooking translates from the kitchen at 44 Hill Street right through to my home where I enjoy cooking for family, friends and other guests.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY?
As a whole, 44 Hill Street prides itself on using fantastic produce from local, independent producers to present dishes with our own unique Mediterranean twist. Northern Ireland is very impressive for the range of great local produce that it has to offer.
WHAT SIZE IS YOUR STAFF?
Currently we are a team of seven; however, we are hoping to expand this in the coming weeks as we look ahead to the busy Christmas period.
WHOSE CAREER WOULD YOU WISH TO EMULATE?
There are many talented chefs, all with admirable career success. I think personally for myself, it’s not about focusing on what others are doing but more about investing time in what I am doing whether it be exploring new recipes perfecting my skills. A little down the line, I would hope to open my own restaurant with my partner, although not quite sure where I would like to set up!
HAVE YOU ANY INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I have such a great love for cooking, so my work tends to follow me home as I enjoy creating meals for family and friends. When I do eventually step out of the kitchen, I love to get into the fresh air, so I can often be found gardening or carrying out DIY projects. Complete downtime for me would involve travelling with my fiancé or a quiet movie night at the weekend.
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