A Friday Chat With Head Chef at Searcys at The Barbican, Clifton D’Souza8 October 2021
With his family living in Italy, Osteria at the Barbican’s Head Chef Clifton D’Souza draws on his Italian experiences to inspire the menu in the elegant lakeside restaurant. Osteria showcases highlights from across all 20 regions of Italy, with an excellent list of Franciacorta sparkling wine and many different versions of the infamous Negroni cocktail. This week, Clifton talks to us about his favourite dish to cook, and his plans for the future of Osteria.
Hi Clifton. Tell us about how you started out in the chef world? What experiences have inspired you the most?
I started as a commis chef at the Wolseley restaurant in London, which was a pretty amazing place to work. Over the years I’ve worked in some of the most amazing properties around London and with some top chefs. All these experiences helped me learn amazing techniques and skills to bring with me in my career. Also, my family is in Italy, so every time I travel there is helps me with new ideas and inspiration.
What are your favourite things about working at Searcys?
What gets me up and coming in to work every day is quite simply the team around me. They are the thing that make things possible. Without them it wouldn’t be an easy ride… they are my backbone I would say.
What is your favourite dish to cook and to eat?
I love fresh homemade pasta, that’s what got me into working at Osteria. But also a really slowed cooked beef which has been braised for 6 hours in stock, red wine and herbs, so that it it literally melts in your mouth. This combined with pasta is heaven on a plate, not forgetting of course an amazing Parmigiano-Reggiano grated on top.
What is your favourite part of the day and why?
It has to be service, because there is no time to complain. All the hours of prep go into a couple of hours of intense service – the push and adrenaline rush gets me every day.
How did you adapt during COVID, and what changes or innovations have you introduced?
As well as all keeping in touch during the lockdown just to keep everyone’s spirits up, loads of ideas were shared, and really good planning was done. It gave us time to brainstorm and helped to create dishes that everyone is happy to put on the menu. A total team effort.
What about the customers? What is the most popular menu at your venue and why?
The most popular dish on the menu has always been the seafood linguine. It’s literally a taste of the sea on a plate. The flavours and combination of the garlic butter and seafood along with the fresh linguine and a glass of white wine… I don’t think there has even been any issue with the dish!
What has been your most unusual customer request?
Oh there are loads to mention but one of the most legendary among the team is ‘’Could I have a slice of tart but cut in 3 please to share’’.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I’m involved in working on marketing plans for the whole of Osteria. I can’t wait for the chance to put Osteria and the hard work of the team on the map and let more people know about what we’re doing. There are loads of exciting new dishes too.