The head chef at Maribel, Harvey Perttola talks about the British and Punjabi influences in his minimalist style of cuisine and his passion for bringing approachable fine dining to a younger audience - trainers and all!
Tell us about your cooking
I’d describe it as a combination of modern British cuisine with Punjabi influences. My style is inspired by my heritage and my experience, using garden-led British produce, from my time at Hampton Manor. I use only the best quality produce, letting perfectly paired ingredients speak for themselves. There will be only two or three elements on the plate – sleek and simple. Something I’m really passionate about is making fine dining more accessible to a younger audience. Since taking on the role as head chef at Maribel, I’ve worked with the team to craft a menu that is not only more approachable, but also has a price point to reflect that. A top dining experience isn’t about wearing a suit and tie. You can rock up in your trainers and be welcomed here with open arms.
How did you become a chef?
Alongside my school studies, I worked for David Colcombe at Opus during the weekends, before being offered a full-time position. David’s influence has shaped the chef I am today – he bought me my first pair of chef shoes! He taught me the importance of trust and discipline – not only in the kitchen but also in life. Now 10 years later and a head chef myself, I owe David so much for putting me on the right path.
What do you eat when at home?
The women in my family have had a huge influence on my love for cooking. As a child, I would watch my grandma cook, creating home-style traditional food that fed our whole family. My favourite meal has to be her chicken curry. The recipe is secret ¬– the amount of times I’ve tried to recreate it and failed is ridiculous! Something I shouldn’t admit, but am going to anyway, is that I am also partial to a McDonald’s every now and then…
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
Best in the world for me has to be Gordon Ramsay. His core values and dedication are something that I like to align myself with. For years I’ve watched and admired him. I watched Boiling Point, where he opened his first restaurant on Royal Hospital Road, London and that programme was a real eye-opener and showed me that it’s not always going to be a smooth ride but if you put in the hours and dedicate yourself, you will achieve success. The Midlands culinary scene is thriving, there are tons of chefs I look up to that I could mention. To pick one, Rob Palmer at Hampton Manor is someone who has been instrumental in my career. I really admire the culture he’s created and how he really made the team feel like a family.
Is the customer always right?
Share a cooking tip
Big pot blanching.
Food heaven and food hell?
Again, I hate to admit it but my food heaven has got to be a Big Mac. Hell is tinned fish… it’s just so wrong!
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
It’s got to be a fish eye, which wasn’t by choice!
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
At school I loved anything to do with history, so probably something that involves that.
What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?
It’s got to be the monkfish dish from the a la carte menu.