Located on the 24th floor of 103 Colmore Row, Orelle is one of Birmingham’s newest restaurants, offering a modern French cuisine set against a backdrop of panoramic views across the city and beyond. We caught up with executive chef Chris Emery
Tell us about your cooking
My style of cooking is very much ingredient led. The way I like to cook is to take the best produce we can find, respect it and let it do the talking. What excites me is the quality and variety of produce that we get in at Orelle. My menu has been designed to showcase the best of British produce and celebrate the stories behind locally sourced ingredients.
How did you become a chef?
I became a chef when I was 16 after going to catering college, but I knew it was what I wanted to do from the age of five. Both of my grandmothers were a strong influence on me. One was a baker, and I spent a lot of time with her, the other was a very proud lady who would always host dinner parties, and I would run around her feet and get in the way! I’ve worked at some incredible restaurants including The Alice in Oxford and Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social in London and The Clocktower in New York, and I’m excited to be bringing my own menu to Orelle.
What do you eat at home?
On my days off I like to cook simple food that my partner likes to eat, which is usually classic British dishes. We love a good pie, and if I’m off on a Sunday it has to be a roast dinner!
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
Chef Daniel Humm is a huge inspiration, not only has he won three Michelin stars at his restaurant Eleven Madison Park in New York, but he has achieved this with an entirely plant-based menu, showcasing huge creativity. He is also widely respected for his charity work. Birmingham’s reputation for good food is continuing to go from strength to strength. I’ve recently moved to the city so I’m excited to be able to try more of our fantastic restaurants.
Share a cooking tip
Over lockdown I really got into growing my own produce and I would encourage anyone to try the same – the flavour and enjoyment you get from picking and cooking fresh ingredients from your own garden is incredible.
What was your favourite food as a kid?
My parents both had busy jobs so growing up I literally lived on frozen meals. My all-time favourite was chicken nuggets, chips and beans.
Food heaven and food hell?
I’m surrounded by food heaven every day but my number one has to be freshly baked bread. For food hell, that’s a difficult one as I eat pretty much everything, but I would have to say steamed cabbage!
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
I tried scorpion on holiday in Egypt when I was about 13 – it really didn’t have a great flavour and was a bit bland!
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
Going back to my love for produce, I would say a farmer. That stems from the enjoyment I got from growing produce over lockdown, I got a new-found respect for it.
TRY CHRIS’S DELICIOUS CHICKPEA PANISSE RECIPE
- 85g Chickpea Flour
- 35g extra virgin olive oil
- 350ml tap water
- Salt to taste
- Boil the water and the butter together, pour half the water and butter mix into the chickpea flour and mix to a smooth paste
- Pour the paste into the remaining water and cook for 4-5 minutes medium heat
- Pour into baking tray lined with cling film and refrigerate until set
- Punch out with a round cutter and deep fry for 2-4 minutes until golden brown