Overlooking Green Park in the heart of Mayfair, London, HIDE restaurant boasts (alongside its Michelin star) a beautiful hidden exterior, true to its name. It is the workplace of Josh Angus, Group Executive Chef of the three beautiful restaurants in the area – all offering seasonal dishes with a luxurious finish.
Sitting in the comfort of a private dining space entitled ‘The Broken Room’, located in the basement of HIDE, a culinary sanctuary “to enjoy the imperfect, impermanent and incomplete”, Josh reveals how his journey has led him to the culinary heights of his job now.
Starting with the beginning of his career, Josh explains, “I’ve been a chef for almost 18 years now, starting off with an apprenticeship in Sheffield one day a week and working in a local restaurant for the rest of the time. I became the Head Chef of two local wine bars before deciding I wanted to train properly. I made the decision to work at Michelin starred Le Manoir, a Raymond Blanc restaurant, which was a rude awakening!”. His passions evolved from a young age, after studying Food Technology at school. He described the path he chose was dictated by the feeling of always knowing he wanted to be a chef, as other subjects at school didn’t interest him. He states, “The adrenaline and atmosphere of the kitchen was something that really excited me”.
A typical day for Josh is as varied as the different dishes they serve. He remarks: “My day to day varies – but as a baseline we do breakfast, lunch and dinner on both floors of the restaurant. Today we have 160 for breakfast, 90 for lunch and 175 booked for dinner. I’m on the pass ensuring that everything is consistently Michelin starred standard and that I am happy with all the food going out to customers for lunch and dinner. If I have time, I will head to the other sites to check on the Head Chefs, but usually this is done over the phone. Other than that, my day will consist of a lot of admin – rotas, recipes, menu development and recruitment.”
When asked about how he motivates the team of around 55 chefs 363 days a year, he says the key is simple. “To inspire the team everyday is about being present, coming in everyday and pushing. By showing them I am working just as hard as them. I also firmly believe in training; we make a lot of our stuff in-house; more than most restaurants. On the premises we have two kitchens and a bakery, where we make everything from our own bread to butchering animals. Not many places do this anymore, and I believe in the art of passing down these skills to the next generation of chefs”.
The serenity of HIDE is a testament to the huge operation Josh is running behind the scenes. His staff are hired based on hard work and passion for excellent food. He says the trick to a successful employee is “having the correct attitude and a passion for learning”.
HIDE’s receptivity to the changing times evolves with the desires of the customer base. Josh says that “HIDE has changed, in that it used to have two restaurants within the one building. We have now streamlined everything to have the same menus on the same floor. For HIDE and myself, we are seasonally led. I like to let the produce speak for itself. Our whole ethos is quite organic and natural – from the food to the plates we use. We create our dishes around what is in season at the time. I believe if you use the best produce and suppliers, then you don’t need to do much to make it delicious if you season and cook it well. You have to pay a bit more for this, but it is 100% worth it. With our fish from Cornwall or Scotland, meat from the Lake District and most of our fresh produce from around the United Kingdom, we try and use the best we can.”
When asked about the future of dining, he tells me that: “food in restaurants has changed massively in the last ten years, and I think the old school, classical style of cooking is dwindling a bit. Modern European and Scandinavian styles of cooking have become more popular, which is how I like to cook. Taster menus are mostly on the way out, and people normally tend to opt for an à la carte menu, which is what we have noticed here”. Unfortunately, with the ongoing financial crisis, Josh says that “everything has gone up in price, which the customer has to pay for too. In recent times, lots of restaurants have closed due to increased wages, inflation and cost of rent – it is a vicious cycle”.
So how does HIDE stay afloat when many others are crumbling? Josh says, “We try and offer the full package – our service is amazing, our wine list is the biggest in Europe and we offer a lot of options for different styles of dining.” The restaurant’s atmosphere is inviting and warm: featuring a magnificent signature staircase akin to something you might see in a Lewis Carroll book; so it is no surprise when Josh reveals: “we have many repeat customers; it becomes a home to many who visit weekly”.
If you are in London and fancy a classical meal with a modern twist, a glorious glass of wine from their extensive list or perhaps a tasting menu, one of HIDE’s three locations is a guaranteed winner.