With 10 years experience in the kitchen, recently awarded third place in the Channel Islands Chef ot the Year competition and having recently being promoted to Head Chef at the Duke of Richmond Hotel, Helder Gois is a name to look out for. He takes a moment out of his busy schedule to chat wth us about his love for food and the Guernsey International Food Festival.
This is the first time Guernsey is hosting an International Food Festival – what makes this event special to you?
The International Food Festival coming to Guernsey is a very exciting event and one I am very much looking forward to. All restaurants on the Island, including the Leopard Bar & Restaurant will be taking part in the festivities. I’ve created a variety of Specials which highlight the fine local produce and take inspiration from our founder Mrs. Beatrice Tollman’s recipes. Along with this I will be part of events happening in downtown St.Peter Port such as cooking demonstrations.
How long have you been a Chef and what inspired you to choose this career?
My interest in food began when I was a child in my native Portugal and I have been a chef since 2006, working my way up the ranks from kitchen porter, to commis, chef de partie and sous chef. After many years of hard work and dedication I now have the privilege of recently being promoted to Head Chef at the Duke of Richmond Hotel. I take inspiration from the Mediterranean influenced Portuguese cuisine, the fantastic produce available in Guernsey and most all my fellow chefs who always push me to do my best. An achievement I am proud of is third prize in the Channel Island Chef of the Year competition – aiming for first next time around!
The Leopard Bar & Restaurant is a popular destination for hotel residents and Guernsey locals alike – what keeps guests coming back?
The hotel and restaurant were refurbished not too long ago and are unique to the Island in terms of ambience and the food we serve. Our guests’ positive feedback is a testament to the passion we have for providing quality food and exceptional service. One of our best sellers and signature dish, the Rotisserie Chicken, is so popular that it isn’t unusual if we sell out! Guests also love the glass front kitchen where they can see the chefs busy at work preparing delicious food for them.
In the run up to the Festival do you have any special dishes you’d be willing to share a bit more about?
I will be keeping the details under wraps until the actual festival however I have been hard at work along with my chefs in developing exciting and delicious dishes. Our goal here is to keep things local so all ingredients will be sourced from Guernsey farms and the sea just on our doorstep. Expect deliciously fresh seafood and and dishes based on one of my favourite meats to cook, organic lamb. This is something certainly worth waiting for and I am keen to unveil what we have been working on!
What do you think sets the Guernsey culinary landscape apart from other locations?
The abundance of fresh seafood is undeniably one of the Island’s greatest culinary assets and it is home to some truly unique Guernsey delicacies such as Guernsey Gâche, a rich fruit bread, and Bean Jar, which is a type of cassoulet. Also unique to the Bailiwick is Guernsey cattle which provide rich flavoured delicious milk – the butter and cream produced from this milk is out of this world! Local farmers and producers are also very passionate about what they do and we work closely with them to ensure only the freshest and highest quality ingredients are used in our kitchen. We also have our very own herb and vegetable garden which provides us with the freshest ingredients!
The Food Lab event in St Peter Port is one of the highlights of the festival – how do you feel in the run up to this exciting event?
Myself and four other top Chefs from Guernsey will be matched with five of the best producers to create exciting tasting dishes. Chefs are very competitive and an event like this brings out the best in each of us! I can only assume the results will be dishes which push the boundaries of gastronomy and will provide tastes to showcase the culinary delights of Guernsey.
For a taste of Helder’s delicious cuisine, book at table at The Leopard Restaurant at The Duke of Richmond Hotel, Cambridge Park Road, St.Peter Port.. Tel: +44 14 8172 6221. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org