Michael Reid left Vue De Monde in Australia last September to start work on M restaurants with his old colleague and founder of the new venture, Martin Williams. What started out as an idea over a few cognacs and cigars has now turned into two highly successful London restaurants and a brand new book, ‘The 24 Hour Cook Book‘. OpenTable caught up with the Group Executive Chef to find out about his work at Taste of London, his passion for sustainability and what he’s cooking up next.
What defines each restaurant, and how do you manage to keep abreast of both kitchens?
I split my time pretty evenly between the two sites, going in and prepping with the guys in one restaurant, coaching and working on new dishes before going into lunch service together on shift. Afterwards, I’ll do more menu development before heading to the other restaurant and doing the exact same routine again but with the dinner service.
The menus for the two venues are about 85% different because the restaurants themselves have very different demographics, but some key hero dishes appear on both. The Threadneedle Street restaurant is at the heart of the City, making it very masculine and business driven, and the food a little rustic, whereas the Victoria restaurant is more feminine with a West End feel, so the food is more elegant.
Talk us through M’s partnership with Ocean Blue for Taste of London
Ocean Blue has the world’s biggest and most technologically advanced open farm fishery in Panama. Its product, the cobia, is a sashimi grade fish that has an incredible versatility both cooked and raw, and I served it at Taste of London as sashimi with a green pickle chilli salsa, playing on the Vietnamese nuoc mam cham dressing – but we offered it with a virtual tour.
Google developed an app using 360 degree technology and their goggles to take people on a virtual tour from egg to plate. People were swimming with the cobia or flying in a helicopter over the ocean. A few people even fell over while experiencing it, but our stand was always full and a lot of fun.
Why is the Ikejime form of fishing so important for the restaurant industry?
As chefs it’s our responsibility to look after the oceans and make sure that we’re sourcing fish responsibly. The Ikejime form of fishing is one fisherman, on one boat, with one line. The fish is brain spiked and killed instantly when caught, cutting the nervous system and stopping lactic acid from being released, giving it a firmer texture. When fish are caught through trawling or mass lines they are left flapping around on boats, sending them into rigor mortis and releasing ATP, which leaves a bitter and sour taste.
The majority of the produce on the market today has no traceability, and even if it has been sourced locally it may still have been caught by mass lines or trawlers. I’d rather get my fish from the other side of the world but know that it’s being caught in a responsible manner.
What’s your next big project for the M menus?
Right now I’m working on a unique beef item, an extreme aged rib on the bone. The average time for ageing beef is around 21 days, but we tested out ageing it for 50 days, then 75, 100, and 125 until we reached 175 days. The result is very unique, very beefy, rich, and a little blue cheesy on the palate. It’s not a jerky but it has a cured meat style and texture to it, and the beauty of ageing beef for that long means that the marbling becomes incredible. It’s not going to be for everybody but if you like intense flavours, it’s very much for you.