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Quick Q&A with Michelin-trained Chef Anthony Cumberbatch

BARBADOS TO THE WORLD: Chef Anthony Cumberbatch (photo credit: Lime)

IN BETWEEN flying the flag for Caribbean cuisine during his international travels, Chef Anthony Cumberbatch speaks with The Voice about his varying career influences which include TV’s Anthony Worrall-Thompson and helping his grandfather sell meat in Barbados as a child.

As well as winning several awards for his cooking, Cumberbatch has appeared on the small screen several times and can also be credited with providing the food at celebrity weddings, including that of singer Beverley Knight.

Q: How long after you started your career did it take you to feel like you could and would make it to the higher echelons of food, where you sit right now?

A: I’ve always been that person who would follow my grandmother into the kitchen and was curious about what was in every single recipe, so from an early age it was clear to me that cooking was my passion.

The breaking point was when I decided to pursue a culinary course in catering at college. The funny thing is, during my second year experience at college, I accidently walked into the wrong door at the Savoy Hotel and found myself cooking with the famous chef Anton Edelmann in 1987.

PRESENTATION: Appealing treats courtesy of Chef Anthony Cumberbatch and his team

I knew I would be able to transform my gift and ambition into something amazing, so I’ve never stopped since then.

The Michelin training I’ve gained would have been enough to open a French restaurant anywhere in the world, but what would be the fun in doing something so safe like that? Presenting Caribbean cuisine in a more elegant and creative way can be a challenge and that is where my mission starts. I incorporate the Caribbean food as a baseline for my cooking and take some liberties in French and Vietnamese directions.

At the end of the day, as a chef is all about learning new techniques and growing always connected to my roots.

Q: You credit your grandparents with teaching you about food and how to cook. What do they make of your success today?

A: They have left a legacy that I am perpetuating through my work, so I believe they are very proud and continue to guide me.

While growing up in Barbados, I assisted my grandfather raising his own grass-fed animals on the farm. Every Sunday early morning, we would do the butchery and after church, we would sell the joins of meat to the parish.

NEW TAKE: A contemporary take on oxtail served by Chef Anthony Cumberbatch

My grandmother, apart from baking, she was the most amazing cook!

I am grateful that they’ve instilled in me the respect and appreciation for my origins and culture, as well as the use of organic fresh crop and the understanding of where all comes from.

Q: Aside from your grandparents, who, if anyone; have you learned the most from when it comes to creating dishes?

A: I have been blessed to be raised by another great cook, my mother.

I’ve also crossed paths with some of the greatest chefs in England. After I finished college at the age of 17, I worked at the Savoy Hotel under chef Anton Edelmann as a commis chef, then went on to Simpsons on the Strand with chef Mr. Sheriff where I’ve progressed to Chef de Partie.

I’ve developed my pastry skills with chef Andy Magson and had the opportunity to learn a lot about fish.

One of the main people in my career was chef Antony Worrall-Thompson, who believed in my talent and gave me my first Head Chef position at his restaurant Palio in London where I stayed for four years.

Look out for more from Chef Anthony in The Voice's forthcoming Food and Restaurant Guide. In the meantime, click here for all things Chef Anthony.

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