A Friday Chat With Searcys Head Chef at The IET London: Savoy Place Stuart Fay10 September 2021
Like most chefs, Stuart had to adapt and innovate hugely through during the pandemic by turning his skills to private dining and online cooking classes. Starting as Head Chef at the IET in London this autumn as many venues and events re-open, however, he’s back more motivated than ever, with a new range of banqueting menus, healthy options and “Food Equilibrium” initiatives designed to cut down our global consumption of meat. Located at Savoy Place on the banks of the River Thames, the venue offers state of the art AV facilities and stunning riverside views in the heart of the city.
Stuart, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve been a chef for my whole career. I worked in a kitchen since I was 16, starting as a kitchen porter in a local pub. I then went to college, and was in the first year of people to graduate Colchester institute with a NVQ3. I then went on to work at The Dorchester, before going back to Essex to work in local restaurants, finally ending up at the historic 15th century Bell Inn in Horndon-on-the-Hill as head chef for 11 years. My next move was to IET London: Savoy Place as head chef, followed by a short spell to The Law society as executive chef.
Tell us your three favourite things about the IET.
I know the building well – it has a wonderful roof terrace, state of the art AV facilities, eighteen versatile event spaces and spectacular views over the River Thames. That’s four!
What’s been the most unexpected part of your job over the last year?
With COVID putting events on hold last March, I found myself having to adjust, and one part of that was doing online baking classes for local kids. It was really good fun and was great to see their enjoyment of cooking and progress.
And finally, what are you working on at the at the venue?
We are back catering for events, and I’m looking forward to the challenges of building a team around me. We’ve launched so many great dining options for events across Savoy Place, with lots of healthy options, all day buffets for meetings with a modern veg-centric twist, breakfasts on the go, bento boxes and packed lunches and so on.
Okay, now some quick-fire questions!
What’s something your colleagues might be surprised to know about you?
I’m not a great lover of football. I’m a rugby boy, though my youngest plays football for a local team.
What has been your most unusual customer request?
In my time in restaurants, the one that sticks in my mind is when a customer asked for an eggless Scotch egg.
Who is your culinary inspiration – a chef or cuisine?
It’s got to be Gordon Ramsey, his food is amazing.
The best meal ever… where did you have it?
Pressed Duck at the Waterside Inn in Bray.
What are your favourite ingredients?
Lamb, it’s my absolute favourite thing to eat and cook.
A dream dish for your restaurant would be…
Confit pork belly, sauté scallops, vanilla carrot, chervil and bearnaise – I’ve done a version of this dish in most of the restaurants that I have worked, and it’s always been popular.
What is your favourite meal of the day and why?
For me the favourite meal of the day is dinner, it’s a time when as a family we catch up. Not always of course, but also Sunday lunch is important family time.
Last but not least…. Champagne or wine? What do you prefer with your meal?
When having a meal my choice would be Sancerre, but if it were my wife’s choice it would be Champagne.