Jack Cinense

From the Philippines to Brum’s Bavarian ‘pleasure palace’, head chef at Albert’s Schloss, Jack Cinense on his role model father and how the grill is king 

Tell us about your cooking

Although my roots are in the food of the Philippines, my professional passion has grown into grilling, BBQ and smoking which I’ve honed over the years. Now at Albert’s Schloss, I’ve combined that with bakery skills with daily fresh pretzels and breads.

How did you become a chef?

I didn’t go to college to study food, so my route was a bit different. My dad was a private chef in London and growing up I was always around food. As a child I asked him to teach me the basics. As a grown-up, having worked in a bank and studied business, a friend opened a Thai restaurant and asked if I wanted to get involved.

I started working as a porter and quickly progressed to the kitchen. When the head chef realised I had skills, he made me prep chef, then I moved to the grill and woks. I worked my way up to sous chef then moved to Grill on the Market where I was promoted to head chef within two months.

I met my other half who’s from Brum during this time and when she became pregnant, we moved to Birmingham. I worked at Hickory Smokehouse then Gusto and when Albert’s Schloss opened, I couldn’t resist coming here.

What do you eat at home?

My wife is a bit picky with food and only eats chicken breasts and beef! I go to back to my Filipino roots and cook chicken adobo which has dark soy, vinegar, ginger and garlic.

Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?

I wouldn’t like to say, but one thing’s for certain – my role model as a chef has to be my father.

How has your restaurant adapted to the current crisis?

We had a bit of a crisis in December when half the team had Covid, so on odd days we had a reduced menu due to lack of staff. There was a Sunday when we only had two chefs in the kitchen, so we had to serve main courses only. That wasn’t great, but thankfully disruption has been minimal. I think customers ‘get it’ and really appreciate being able to be allowed out again.

What was your favourite food as a kid?

Lechon which is crispy pork. You boil belly pork with spices like star anise, cinnamon and ginger, then take it out, dry the meat, roast for an hour then deep fry it until the skin starts to bubble.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?

Frog soup. It tasted just like chicken really. I lived in a village in the Philippines for seven years and remember eating some pretty unusual things.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?       

I’ve always had an interest in numbers, so I’d probably be in finance.

Albert’s Schloss, One Chamberlain Square, Paradise, Birmingham, B3 3AX. albertsschloss.co.uk/birmingham